Friday, April 19, 2024

The lobby at Cambridge Hospital, with access to its emergency room. (Photo: Marc Levy)

The Cambridge Health Alliance’s two hospitals in Cambridge and Everett are caring for 15 patients with Covid-19, and another 17 who are under investigation for the virus, spokesman David Cecere said Monday. Six of those who have Covid-19 are in intensive care, filling one-third of the Alliance’s 18 intensive care unit beds, according to a fact sheet on the health care system’s website.

The Alliance is preparing for “a surge in critical care patients” as doctors “see an increase in patients with highly acute needs,” Cecere said.

Dr. Assaad Sayah, the health care system’s chief executive, said Monday, “We’re still a bit away from the peak. We have a difficult few weeks ahead. How high the peak is and how soon the peak is depends on the actions we have taken over the past few weeks and will continue to take.”

“I think we have weeks to go,” Sayah said. “At least.”

On Sunday the city’s public health department announced that a man in his 80s had died of the virus and 70 had tested positive. On Monday the City Council was told the count was 79.  The health department’s breakdown showed a marked increase in the number of infected residents over 70, with the total in that age group doubling to 14 on Monday from seven on Sunday. Younger residents between 20 and 49 still account for the largest group of those infected.

Update on April 1, 2020: The count of positive cases rose to 96 on Wednesday, an additional 10 people from Tuesday’s total, the health department said. The department also said Tuesday that it was changing the way it discloses changes in the count to report the number by date of diagnosis rather than the date on which the state notified the city of a case. That method “is preferable for studying disease patterns over time,” the agency said. A graph of all the data since March 7 using the new method is here.

”We are increasing staffing, preparing to open additional beds and piloting e-consults on our inpatient units so providers can care for more patients across CHA while reducing both the risk of spread and use of personal protective equipment,” Cecere said.

On Monday the Alliance announced that all visits to primary care clinics will be by telehealth, instead of in person. It also said it would bar anyone, including vendors, from entering any Alliance location if they live with someone in quarantine or isolation; have traveled to New York City in the past two weeks; left the United States in the past two weeks; been closer than 6 feet to an infected person for more than 10 minutes in the past two weeks; or have symptoms including fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, muscle aches or a loss of sense of smell.

Other restrictions that were already in place included banning visitors to emergency room patients at Cambridge Hospital and not allowing visitors to patients in the hospital except for one visitor to women giving birth and one to children.

The Alliance’s hospitals have 277 beds in total; 137 beds are for general medical and surgical patients; 18 are for intensive care; the remaining beds are for psychiatry, maternity patients and newborns, the fact sheet says.