WORCESTER – UMass Memorial Medical Center received approval from the state Board of Public Health last week to add 91 inpatient beds between two of its medical campuses, which will help ease congestion on its ward. emergency.
Part of a $143 million renovation to be completed by 2025 between two buildings, 72 beds will be added to the University campus and 19 beds will be added to the Memorial campus and will allow patients to have appropriate care parameters to obtain treatment after diagnosis in the emergency department.
“We’re really excited. We think this is a huge win for Central Mass patients,” said Michael Gustafson, president of the medical center. “It will be a down payment, or help partially resolve, what we believe is a long-standing issue.”
The need for more beds existed before the COVID-19 pandemic, Gustafson said.
“Long before the pandemic, there were many days when we were at 100% occupancy,” he said. “Thirty or 40 patients are waiting in the emergency room for a hospital bed.”
During that time, he said, about 15% to 20% of patients could not be accepted for treatment.
“It was about 2,000 patients,” Gustafson said. “It’s become sometimes 30-40% of the time we have to say ‘no’ and that’s around 4,000 patients.”
Concerned that hospitals may be congested this winter due to an increase in respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases – especially in children – as well as other concerns such as influenza and the COVID-19 pandemic In progress, city officials recently urged residents to start masking again.
With a total of 749 licensed beds throughout the hospital, including 69 cribs, the hospital will have over 800 when renovations are complete.
New beds only in Worcester
Renovations will take place at the six-story building at 378 Plantation St., adjacent to the UMass Memorial Health college campus. The other will be at the hospital system’s Memorial Campus at 119 Belmont St.
The new beds are for the Worcester campus only, said Ellen C. Carlucci, vice president of marketing, communications and campus development at Marlborough. There are no plans to add additional beds on the Marlborough campus at this time, she said.
Heywood Hospital’s vice president of external affairs, Dawn Casavant, said that due to structural limitations at the hospital, they would not be able to increase the number of beds available for patients.
Milford Regional Medical Center CEO Ed Kelly said the hospital has no immediate plans to increase the number of its licensed inpatient beds.
“As you know, such an increase would require a needs determination and other specific processes required by the state,” Kelly said. “However, we continue our diligence in working collaboratively internally and with our external healthcare partners to mitigate the high volume of patients encountered in our emergency department.”
UMass Memorial facilities will be able to offer different services including treatment of sepsis/severe sepsis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory infection, pneumonia, heart failure, pulmonary edema and other medical conditions after the renovations are complete.
“I really see this as a win for patients in this part of the state and we’re thrilled for our providers who are operating in a very, very high capacity system,” Gustafson said. “We’re excited to be able to do it, even if it’s two years from now.”