Southcoast Health dealing with staffing challenges amid rising volume of COVID-19 patients


(WPRI) — Hospital leaders at Southcoast Health say the COVID-19 situation across Massachusetts and the country is “critical.”

On Monday, the hospital system implemented stricter visitation policies in an effort to continue allowing visitors in a way that still keeps patients and staff safe.

Dr. Dan Hackner, chief clinical officer at Southcoast Health, says emergency departments have been most impacted.

Hackner is urging people to seek care at the right level, which may mean reaching out to one’s primary care doctor or specialist, and going to an urgent care facility over the emergency room.

“Urgent care is oftentimes a very good choice for non-emergent, but urgent conditions,” Hackner said.

“But if you do need emergent care, we want to be sure you have access to that care. We want to keep you safe and want you to come in early if it’s emergent care,” he continued.

Hackner also says the amount of virus circulating in the community now is high, and while hospitalizations are much lower than they were at the start of the pandemic, many individuals are still being hospitalized. This all while the hospital system deals with a staffing challenge.

The Herald News reports over 200 Southcoast Health medical workers were fired last Tuesday for refusing to comply with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Hackner was unable to comment on the matter but says the staffing challenge is not related to any events in the last couple of weeks.

“Our staffing challenge has been for the past year, as the volumes of COVID and non-COVID patients have been rising very steadily and the workforce hasn’t increased,” Hackner said. “Much of the temporary workforce is not there anymore; not in our region, but also not in the Commonwealth.”

Hackner says in addition to seeking care at the right level, to get vaccinated and get tested if displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

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