‘In Big Shift,’ Massachusetts Hospitals Change Covid Report

Lesson: High Risk of Death After Covid Recovery

The CT Mirror:
CT Asks Nursing Homes To Take COVID-Positive Transfers From Hospitals
Nursing homes are being asked to accept COVID-positive admissions from hospitals, according to new guidance from the Department of Public Health, even as positivity rates within nursing homes are increasing sharply. The latest guidance from the DPH is an indication that the state is trying to alleviate the growing crush of COVID-19 cases in hospitals as they near record numbers of patients. Until Thursday, the health department required any patient transferred from a hospital to a long-term care facility to have a negative COVID test performed in the hospital within 48 hours of their transfer, but that requirement is now waived. (Altimari and Carlesso, 1/6)

On staff shortages —

The Boston Globe:
‘It’s All Hands On Deck’: Hospitals Scramble To Staff The Front Lines As Surge Continues
Hospitals across Massachusetts are confronting an unprecedented number of workers sidelined by COVID-19 as the Omicron variant continues to surge, and many facilities are already at or near capacity with critically sick patients. The chief executive of UMass Memorial Health in Worcester donned protective gear Thursday and swabbed the noses of patients at a COVID-19 testing center, filling in for workers who were out. At Baystate Health in Springfield, retired and senior physicians who don’t normally see patients staffed phones and helped cover telehealth appointments. (Lazar, 1/6)

Modern Healthcare:
New CDC Guidance Jeopardizes Patients And Staff, Nurses And Doctors Warn
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently put out new COVID-19 guidance aiming to mitigate staffing shortages, but the recommendations could harm patients and healthcare staff, nurses and doctors claim. CDC recommends that healthcare workers who are asymptomatic or experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms and aren’t feverish return to work at short-staffed hospitals after five days of isolation, even if they haven’t had a negative test. Healthcare providers—many of which are operating near or at capacity—are left to weigh the consequences of exposing workers and patients to the virus and not having enough staff to care for every patient. (Kacik and Christ, 1/6)

Story Highlights

  • The Boston Globe:
    Mass. Hospitals Will Begin Reporting Primary Vs. Incidental COVID-19 Admissions On Monday, DPH Says
    In a major shift, Massachusetts hospitals will soon begin reporting how many patients are admitted primarily due to COVID-19 versus those admitted for other ailments and also test positive for the virus. State public health officials currently count both types of admissions in its COVID-19 hospitalization totals. On Wednesday, the state reported that 2,426 patients with COVID-19 were in the hospital, almost exactly matching last winter’s peak of 2,428 on Jan. 4, 2021. But starting Monday, hospitals will begin reporting whether admissions are primary or incidental to COVID-19, the Department of Public Health said Thursday. That data will likely become public the following week. (Fatima, 1/6)

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
    Patients Wait In ERs For Days As COVID-19 Patients Overwhelm St. Louis-Area Hospitals 
    People unsure of their illness leaving before they are seen by doctors. Sick patients waiting for hours, sometimes days, in an emergency room because there is nowhere for them to be admitted. Others dying in small-town hospitals unable to access the services they need in urban centers like St. Louis. Those are some of the scenarios Dr. Aamina Akhtar, chief medical officer for Mercy Hospital South, said are playing out in emergency departments across the region as the hyper-infectious omicron variant pushes COVID-19 hospitalizations to record levels and sickens health care staff. (Munz, 1/6)

Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah Hospital Staff Are ‘Afraid,’ Monoclonal Antibodies Are Running Out And COVID-19 Test Sites Are Flooded
Utah’s supply of monoclonal antibodies and antiviral medications for COVID-19 is running out as the number of new cases broke a state record again Thursday. And Utah’s hospital leaders are warning that more bed shortages are imminent amid record coronavirus infections. “Our staff are afraid to come to work,” said Tracey Nixon, chief nursing officer for University of Utah Health. “They know we do not have the staff to care for the patients the way we need. ”In a single hospital department on Tuesday, Nixon said, “I had three nurses leave because they can’t do this again. They feel like we’re going backward.” (Alberty, 1/6)

Hospitals Recruit International Nurses To Fill Pandemic Shortages 
Before Mary Venus was offered a nursing job at a hospital here, she’d never heard of Billings or visited the United States. A native of the Philippines, she researched her prospective move via the internet, set aside her angst about the cold Montana winters and took the job, sight unseen. Venus has been in Billings since mid-November, working in a surgical recovery unit at Billings Clinic, Montana’s largest hospital in its most populous city. She and her husband moved into an apartment, bought a car and are settling in. They recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary. Maybe, she mused, this could be a “forever home.” (Ehli, 1/7)

Also — WUSF Public Media:
A Young Nurse Reflects On Caring For COVID Patients In A Deadly Pandemic 
I started working in the hospital when I was 20 years old (as a certified nursing assistant). I’m 25 now. In June is when we started being the COVID unit at my hospital. And we actually still are to this day. So I’ve seen all the ups and downs of it for the past year and a half. It’s been very scary at times. And it is, to a certain extent, still unpredictable in the way of some people are fine, and they’re asymptomatic. And, you know, they have an easy time going. But for other people, they struggle, and it’s a long journey. (Sheridan, 1/6)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.