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Maryland takes action to protect against COVID-19 hospitalizations

Maryland issued a series of actions aimed at addressing a potential surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations as the delta and omicron variants spread.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a news release the state has established a Surge Operation Center that will focus on bed capacity as state health officials eye hospitalization thresholds.

“As I announced last week, we are continuing to closely monitor the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and use every tool at our disposal to make sure our hospitals have the resources they need to prepare for this and future surges,” Hogan said in the release. “These are important actions, but getting vaccinated or boosted continues to be the single most important thing Marylanders can do to protect against these dangerous COVID-19 variants.”

The state’s Department of Health, according to the release, will work in tandem with hospitals to ensure the state’s hospitals and the Maryland Hospital Association are working on “critical operational issues to ensure patient bed capacity” since November and are “meeting weekly with hospital leadership to elevate topics of concern.”

Meanwhile, the Surge Operation Center will monitor the state’s daily operations surrounding COVID-19 patient surges at hospitals, and will include monitoring of any sudden influx of unvaccinated patients, according to the release.

The Surge Operation Center, according to the release, will coordinate with hospitals, facilitate Emergency Department patient transfers to combat surges at one hospital and will use the state’s Alternate Care Site capacity.

The center will also assist with the state’s Intensive Care Unit transfers through the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems capabilities, according to the release.

A new state directive went into effect Wednesday, the release reads, that orders hospitals to take actions when certain COVID-19 hospitalization thresholds are reached. The directive warrants at 1,200 hospitalized patients all staffed bed capacity must be made available and a reduction of non-urgent medical surgeries resulting in an overnight stay. At 1,500 hospitalized patients, hospitals are directed to implement pandemic plans.

Under the directive, according to the release, hospitals are required to submit pandemic plans that address optimizing existing bed capacity, adjusting hospital capacity, including bringing in additional staffed beds, and re-deploy staff or alter staffing models. Plans must also include reducing non-urgent and elective procedures and surgeries, transferring patients to Alternate Care Sites, and bridge any idle clinical or administrative space online or convert other spaces for clinical care.

Hospitals are also urged to expedite health care staffing needs, according to the release, as health officials are working closely with the boards of physicians, nursing, and pharmacy to push emergency regulations designed to enhance staffing at hospitals.

Under the directive, retired Maryland health care professionals can acquire temporary licenses, and to simplify or eliminate administrative burdens to out-of-state health care workers to practice in the state.

The Board of Physicians approved the emergency regulation, according to the release, and the Maryland General Assembly will review the regulations as soon as Jan. 1, 2022.

This article was originally posted on Maryland takes action to protect against COVID-19 hospitalizations

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