New emergency orders issued to help hospitals with massive staff shortage


Hospitals are also seeing more patients than usual, mostly for non-COVID-19-related reasons.

Medical workers treat a patient in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Allison Diner / Bloomberg News

Amid a growing outbreak of COVID-19, the government’s office of Charlie Baker issued new emergency orders on Friday to help overwhelmed hospitals in Massachusetts amid unprecedented staffing shortages.

in one AnnouncementBaker’s office said the new measures are “aimed at ensuring that acute hospitals can serve those who need acute care.”

Staff shortages in the state’s health system have contributed to the loss of nearly 700 medical, surgical and ICU hospital beds since early 2021. The reduction comes as hospitals are seeing a surge in patients — most of the non-COVID-19-related reasons, Baker’s office said.

To help hospitals with low staff, the Department of Public Health (DPH) issued orders:

  • Reduce unnecessary emergency visits to non-emergency services
  • Allow qualified physician assistants to practice independently
  • Provide greater staffing flexibility for dialysis units
  • Let foreign trained physicians more easily qualify for licensure

“Our healthcare system continues to experience significant workforce and capacity shortages due to average hospital stays, isolated and isolated from the challenges brought on by COVID,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Working closely with our hospital leaders, these additional actions by DPH will allow for the flexibility to maintain our hospital capacity in the coming weeks.”

breaking new DPH orders

Cut down on unnecessary ER visits

Health officials said people should not seek ER care for routine health care needs, including COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. Emergency departments across the state are facing serious staff shortages and long wait times for care. This order is to make ER free for patients with urgent medical issues. DPH advises people to visit their primary care providers for non-urgent medical issues.

PA can practice independently

Physician assistants can now practice independently — without physician supervision — as long as they work in a provider setting where PAs work closely with physicians. In order to work independently, a PA must also be qualified and practicing within the scope of their practice, experience, and training.

Moonlight for resident flexibility

Resident physicians can now practice “internal moonlighting,” which lets them provide care outside of their specialized training program. The order aims to ease the burden on the parts of the health care system with the highest staffing demands.

Speedy credentialing and transfers

The order requires that DPH-licensed facilities speed up credentialing, along with the transfer of staff to and around the hospitals in greatest need of help.

Out-of-Hospital Dialysis Center Staff Flexibility

The order will also relax staff level requirements for out-of-hospital dialysis providers, including hospitals with outpatient dialysis centres. On-duty staff will be trained in dialysis care so that they can meet the needs of patients.

Foreign Trained Physician Order

The order would enable accelerated licensing of foreign-trained physicians by allowing those with at least two years of postgraduate training but who do not have a Massachusetts limited license to qualify for licensure.