Hospitals Approved for More Emergency Beds, Shore Officials Concerned About Staff Shortages

HospitalAs hospitals rush to add beds amid the coronavirus crisis, some share concerns about whether they have enough staff to meet the needs.

Under expedited rules and approvals from the Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC), a dozen hospitals and two nursing homes are adding thousands of hospital beds to meet the State’s emergency needs during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Additionally, MHCC has authorized hospitals to add beds in temporary field hospitals with up to 36 such sites statewide.

From The Baltimore Business Journal:

He disclosed that in addition to offering clearances to quickly convert non-inpatient spaces to allow for more bed space, the MHCC and the state’s Office of Health Care Quality have granted clearance for hospitals to bring more than 1,500 beds online in areas that were already equipped to serve as inpatient spaces, but had been repurposed due to capacity downsizing over the past several years.

Regulators have also issued a blanket clearance authorizing any Maryland hospital to add inpatient beds within temporary field hospitals, which some hospitals have proposed setting up on sites separate from their main campuses, or in specially erected tents and interim facilities.

However, beds are not the biggest concern everywhere in the state. In some places, beds and supplies are sufficient while staffing remains less certain.

The Star Democrat reports on how hospitals on the Eastern Shore feel well equipped with everything but staff. There are about 1,050 medical personnel that can care for COVID patients on the Eastern Shore but some health officials worry that may not be enough if cases on the shore rise:

Talbot County Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley said “staffing is the thing we all worry about” within the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health system, which comprises emergency departments and inpatient facilities in Easton, Queenstown, Cambridge and Chestertown.

While Wadley said she “really feel(s) good” about Shore Regional’s supply of beds, ventilators, personal protective equipment, and its ability to convert underused space into intensive care units, the health officer acknowledged that if there’s no one to care for the patients, “that’s a problem.”

For more information:

Md. facilities get blanket clearance for field hospitals, add 280 new beds (The Baltimore Business Journal)

Shore hospitals’ staffing ‘biggest issue’ in fight against virus (The Star Democrat)

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