University of Maryland Capital Region Health says it's moving three Prince George’s health centers to crisis standards of care amid rising COVID-19 cases and staffing shortages.
UM Capital Region Medical Center, UM Bowie Health Center and the Emergency Department at UM Laurel Medical Center declared a hospital emergency Friday, according to a press release.
The hospitals will implement crisis standards of care (CSC) to "enable UM Capital to care for the increasing number of patients in the most safe and effective way during this crisis," according to the release.
Under CSC, hospitals can reassign staff, postpone surgeries and change required patient-to-staff ratios.
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UM Capital Vice President and Deputy Chief Medical Officer said in a statement that going into crisis mode is a necessary step.
“This is not a decision we made lightly and is one that was made after exhausting all other avenues to address issues that are challenging our operations,” Hall said.
UM Capital Region Medical Center, the only trauma center in the county and one that serves all of southern Maryland, was on trauma bypass status for more than three hours overnight between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, according to Maryland hospital data.
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Trauma patients had to be rerouted to D.C. and Montgomery County. This came as there were multiple serious car crashes and several shootings, in addition to the COVID-19 patient surge.
The Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department told News4 that crews are waiting an average of one hour and 19 minutes at all county hospitals to drop patients off—straining already depleted EMS resources.
The weekly average of hospitalizations related to COVID-19 rose by 22% during the last week in Prince George’s County, according to government data.
UM Capital Region Medical Center opened in June, and within weeks there were complaints of long wait times in the emergency room and low staffing, Prince George’s County Bureau Chief Tracee Wilkins reported.
UM Capital Region Health joins several hospitals across Maryland that have declared CSC recently, including Luminis Health Network and Baltimore Washington Hospital Center.
The University of Maryland’s Charles Regional Medical Center went into CSC this week and officials said staffing shortages played a large role.
Staffing levels there have fallen by 40%, William Grimes, vice president of the hospital’s ancillary services, told News4.
Maryland has already required hospitals to pause elective surgeries and take other actions after COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a record high this week.
The Maryland Hospital Association asked Gov. Larry Hogan this week to declare a limited public health emergency to give hospitals more flexibility on Wednesday. At the time, four hospitals were in crisis standards of care.
News4's Tom Lynch contributed to this report.