Cambridge hospitals are full as Covid-19 surges; Governor orders elective procedures postponed
Cambridge’s two hospitals, Mount Auburn and CHA Cambridge, are full as Covid-19 case counts and hospitalizations in Massachusetts grow. Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday ordered hospitals to postpone all elective procedures likely to result in admissions.
Neither Mount Auburn nor Cambridge would provide exact figures on the number of available medical-surgical beds Tuesday, saying the census can vary during a single day. It’s clear that both are full. “We are currently experiencing limited med-surg capacity at our Cambridge and Everett hospitals,” Cambridge Health Alliance spokesperson David Cecere said. Mount Auburn would not provide a statement for quotation, but described the hospital as full.
The state reports the number of patients with Covid-19 in each hospital every day, except for weekends. On Tuesday, CHA had 28 coronavirus patients at Cambridge and Everett, including nine in intensive care. Two weeks before, on Dec.7, the count was 16 coronavirus patients including one in intensive care. For Mount Auburn, the Covid census Tuesday was 12 patients with Covid-19, including nine in intensive care. On Dec. 7, it was 13 patients with the virus including two in intensive care.
The Cambridge Health Alliance and Mount Auburn said they are preparing to implement the governor’s order limiting elective procedures. “We do think this measure will help support our patients and our caregivers, who are working tirelessly to care for those who need us,” Mount Auburn spokeswoman Kristina Murray said. At the Alliance, Cecere said the health care system is “adjusting our protocols and scheduling to comply” with the order.
CHA is perhaps the only Massachusetts hospital that posts up-to-date emergency room waiting times on its website, averaged over the preceding four hours. Before the pandemic, the Alliance stood out for extremely short waits after reorganizing its emergency department procedures.
The wait for an emergency room patient to be seen can vary widely between Cambridge and Everett hospitals and by time of day, but it is generally much longer now than before the pandemic. Picking a few times at random on Tuesday: at 10 a.m., the wait at Cambridge was three minutes, and at Everett, 27 minutes; at 1:07 p.m., the wait at Cambridge was four minutes, and at Everett, 61 minutes; and at 8:50 p.m., the wait at Cambridge was 95 minutes, and at Everett, 26 minutes.
“Consistent with other emergency departments across the region, we are seeing an uptick in volume as more people seek emergency care,” Cecere said.