BOSTON – Today, December 27, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will begin to deploy members of the Massachusetts National Guard to hospitals and ambulance services to help with a staffing shortage, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Commonwealth has seen a surge in COVID cases since Thanksgiving and it has put a strain on hospitals.
Governor Charlie Baker will activate up to 500 members of the Massachusetts National Guard to address the non-clinical support needs of hospitals and transport systems.
Up to 300 of these Guard members will begin training this week and will support 55 acute care hospitals, as well as 12 ambulance service providers across the Commonwealth.
DPH surveyed all hospitals and ambulance service providers, and in concert with the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, has identified five key roles that non-clinical Guard personnel can serve in support hospital operations for up to 90 days:
- Non-emergency transport between facilities: driving ambulances used to transfer patients between two healthcare locations such as when patients are discharged from a hospital and transferred to a long term care facility.
- Patient observers: providing continuous or frequent observation of a patient who is at risk for harm to themselves.
- Security support: helping to maintain a safe workplace.
- In-hospital transport: bringing patients via wheelchair or, if needed, stretcher, from their patient room to tests such as x-ray or CT scan, or from the emergency department to their inpatient floor.
- Food service/tray delivery support: delivering patient meals to their rooms
Also, starting today, hospitals with less than 15 percent of their staffed medical-surgical and intensive care unit bed capacity available must postpone or cancel non-essential, non-urgent scheduled procedures likely to result in inpatient admission to comply with a Massachusetts Department of Public Health order.