BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Noting that hospitals are nearly full and emergency departments stretched, the Maryland Hospital Association is asking Governor Larry Hogan to reinstate a limited public health emergency.
Organizational requirements are given as Maryland sees record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, and as some hospitals have pivoted to crisis management protocols to help manage the growing number of patients they are treating.
“We respectfully ask the Governor and Secretary of Health to help hospitals by providing the flexibility and protection that a limited PHE offers,” MHA President & CEO Bob Atlas said in a statement.
The MHA noted that officials had previously declared a public health emergency in Maryland for a year and a half “when conditions were not so severe.” The limited PHE restoration will help resolve staffing and other issues, the group said.
Over the past two years, hospitals have delayed non-emergency surgeries and come up with innovative ways to ensure patients receive treatment, the organization said in a statement, but its workforce was pushed to the edge.
“The main concern right now is the workforce,” the group said. “Hospital staff are stretched to their limits and we couldn’t ask for more from them.”
Limited PHE will allow hospitals flexibility in how they deploy their staff and also ease paperwork with insurers.
On Wednesday, Maryland passes 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time during the pandemic, up from the previous peak of 1,952 set in January 2020.
Of those currently hospitalized, 1,657 are adults in adult care and 367 are adults in intensive care. There are 15 children in acute care and another 7 in the ICU.
Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and UMD Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Annapolis are among four hospitals that have turned to crisis care standards in response to the recent surge. Others, such as Anne Arundel Medical Center, prophylactic care protocols have been enacted.
The MHA expects other hospitals to take similar measures in the coming weeks as they grapple with a growing number of COVID-19 patients.
“People need to understand that the hospitals they took for granted most of the time are really booming,” says Atlas. “…We have an unprecedented personnel strain.”
Officials and public health experts have encouraged Marylanders to get vaccinated and booster shots if they haven’t already, said unvaccinated people make up the majority of COVID patients -19 of Maryland.
The MHA asks the public to do their part to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.
“Most of the people being treated for COVID in our hospitals are unvaccinated,” the organization said. “Immunization and booster. Please wear a mask, keep social distance and wash your hands. ”
This problem comes close to being for Marylanders like Bridget Calvert, whose 6-year-old daughter Elizabeth has been dependent on doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital all her life.
Calvert said Elizabeth was born premature and weighed 1 pound and 14 ounces when she was born. She was diagnosed with chronic lung disease and common variable immunodeficiency, which put her at high risk for the disease.
“Her lungs weren’t as strong as a normal child’s,” Calvert said. “Her immune system is not as strong as a normal child’s.”
It is because of those health issues that Elizabeth’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis is particularly concerning to Calvert.
“When we walked in, they had set up mobile triage units, the nurses and doctors were back in full hoods with vents to stop the spread,” she said. “Thank God we need the paramedics.”
The 6-year-old girl spent a day in the hospital before being able to go home to recuperate.
Calvert can’t hold back her tears as she thinks about the damage the pandemic has taken on healthcare workers who have done so much for her family.
“I didn’t expect it to make me emotional thinking about these doctors and nurses who kept our baby alive for six years,” she said.
She lamented that things have gotten so bad that even two years after the pandemic began, medical professionals are still working around the clock to save people from COVID-19.
“It’s like expected now that they continue to take care of all of us who are living our lives even though we want to live ours,” Calvert said.
Imelda Anekwe of Baltimore echoed Calvert’s concerns.
“It’s annoying because they’re doing their job,” Anekwe said. “But when it comes to doing their job, it’s like they’re on the front lines, like a war. You cannot escape the bombs”.
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/12/29/maryland-hospital-association-calls-for-limited-public-health-emergency-declaration/ Maryland Hospital Association Calls for Limited Public Health Emergency Declaration – CBS Baltimore