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New emergency orders issued to help hospitals in Mass.  understaffed 

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New emergency orders issued to help hospitals in Mass. understaffed

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Hospitals are also seeing far more patients than usual, mostly for reasons unrelated to COVID-19.

Medical workers treat a patient in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Allison Dinner/Bloomberg News

As the COVID-19 outbreak rages on, Governor Charlie Baker’s office on Friday issued new emergency orders to help overwhelmed Massachusetts hospitals amid unprecedented staffing shortages.

In an announcement, Baker’s office said the new measures are “intended to ensure that acute hospitals can serve those in need of acute care.”

Pressure from staffing shortages in the state’s health care system has contributed to the loss of approximately 700 medical, surgical and critical care hospital beds since the start of 2021. The shortage comes as hospitals see a increase in the number of patients — the majority due to non-COVID-19-related reasons, Baker’s office said.

To help understaffed hospitals, the Department of Public Health (DPH) has taken orders to:

  • Reduce unnecessary emergency visits for non-emergency services
  • Allow qualified medical assistants to practice independently
  • Provide greater staffing flexibility for dialysis units
  • Make it easier for foreign-trained doctors to qualify for licensure

“Our health system continues to experience significant workforce and capacity constraints due to longer than average hospital stays, regardless of the challenges posed by COVID,” the health secretary said. and at Social Services, Marylou Sudders. “In close collaboration with our hospital leaders, these additional DPH actions will allow flexibility to preserve our hospital capacity in the weeks to come.”

Detail new DPH orders

Reduce unnecessary emergency room visits

Health officials have said people should not seek emergency care for routine healthcare needs, including COVID-19 testing and vaccination. Emergency departments across the state are experiencing critical staffing shortages and long wait times for care. The order aims to free up the ER for patients with urgent medical issues. DPH advises people to see their primary care provider for non-emergency medical issues.

Physician assistants can practice independently

Physician Assistants can now practice independently – without the supervision of a physician – as long as they work in a provider environment where Physician Assistants work with physicians. To work independently, physician assistants must also be qualified and practice within their scope of practice, experience, and training.

Moonlighting for resident flexibility

Resident physicians can now engage in “internal moonlighting,” allowing them to provide care outside of their specialist training program. This order is intended to ease the burden on the most staff-intensive parts of the healthcare system.

Credentials and accelerated transfers

This order requires DPH-accredited facilities to expedite accreditation to conduct staff transfers between and around hospitals that need the most help.

Staff Flexibilities in Out-of-Hospital Dialysis Centers

This order will allow out-of-hospital dialysis providers, including hospitals with ambulatory dialysis centers, to relax staffing requirements. On-call staff will be trained in dialysis care so that they can meet the needs of patients.

Order of doctors trained abroad

This order will expedite the licensure of foreign-trained physicians by allowing those with at least two years of postgraduate training, but who do not have a limited Massachusetts license, to qualify for the obtaining a permit.

New emergency orders issued to help hospitals in Mass. understaffed

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