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FRAMINGHAM – For the second consecutive weekend, MetroWest Medical Center in Framingham has notified local first responders to “divert” labor & delivery patients until “further notice.”

Last weekend, December 24 and December 25, the Tenet-owned hospital sent local Fire Departments an email requesting ambulances to its labor & delivery units be diverted to other hospitals die to staffing issues.

MetroWest fire departments were requested to divert labor & delivery patients in ambulances to other medical facilities, SOURCE confirmed.

The hospital is having staffing issues this weekend.

SOURCE has learned that some shifts have just one nurse on and at least one shift had no registered nurse (RN) available.

Last week, the Tenet-owned hospital had only one or two nurses scheduled per shift and during the diversion a couple of the shifts had no RN (registered nurse) at all per shift.

The diversion ended last Monday morning, December 26. It is unknown how long the new “diversion” will last.

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Those giving birth, who call an ambulance, will be diverted to another hospital, for example, Newton-Wellesley Hospital or Milford Hospital.

If someone drives themselves to MetroWest Medical Center, under this “diversion” an ambulance would be called to take them to another hospital, unless it is an emergency, then they will go to the ER unit.

SOURCE reached out to MetroWest Medical Center/Tenet for comment last week on the diversion and no response ever came.

This is the third time this year, that patients have been diverted at the Framingham-based hospital.

For three consecutive days in April, MetroWest fire departments were told to divert ambulances from MetroWest Medical Center.

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An email sent to fire departments in MetroWest on April 20, told MetroWest Fire Departments that the hospital and its sister hospital in Worcester St. Vincent was under a “cyber attack.”

In 2009, Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to successfully ban ambulance diversion. The state Department of Public Health (DPH) directive prohibited ambulance diversion except in cases of internal hospital disasters.

The Commonwealth told the hospital, its diversion was not appropriate.

“On Wednesday, April 20, 2022 the Department of Public Health (Department) became aware of a reported IT failure affecting several major computer systems at MetroWest Medical Center (Hospital). The Hospital declared Code Black status at that time. During subsequent days the Hospital has moved
between Code Black status and normal operations as the IT failure has evolved. Currently the Hospital has been unable to provide the Department with an estimated timeline for resolution of the IT issues. The Department is concerned with the Hospital’s use of Code Black status for these IT failures,” wrote the Commonwealth to then MetroWest Medical CEO Ava Collins.

She has since resigned and a new CEO has been hired.

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Code Black policy expressly defines when a hospital Emergency Department (ED) is closed due to an internal emergency. These include, but are not limited
to events such as:
• Fires;
• Explosions;
• Hazardous material spills or releases;
• Other environmental contamination;
• Flooding;
• Power or other utility failures;
• Bomb threats; or
• Violent or hostile actions impacting the Emergency Department

“The Code Black policy does not contemplate IT failure. As noted in the policy, an interruption in service alone or a temporary change in the Emergency Department capabilities is not an allowable reason for a hospital to declare Code Black status. The Hospital’s inappropriate use of Code Black constitutes diversion, which is not allowed in Massachusetts. While the Department understands the technology challenges presented during this current downtime, it expects the hospital to continue managing the care required for its patients while notifying the Region and Central Medical Emergency Direction Center (CMED) of a temporary change in ED capabilities as needed, such as notifying them that stroke and/or cath lab services are offline. Additionally, the Department strongly recommends the hospital continue to communicate with the regional Health and Medical Coordinating Coalition (HMCC) as needed,” wrote Stephen Davis, the Commonweath’s Director of Health Care Facility Licensure and Certification on April 22, 2022.

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By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.