By Bob Katzen
Hospital executives from across the state along with Gov. Baker made it clear that the state’s health care system can still treat other conditions as it works its way through the surge in COVID-19 cases. They noted that patients shouldn’t let concerns about contracting the contagious respiratory disease drive them to delay treatment.
Baker said that, statewide, more than half of the state’s 18,000 hospital beds are empty. He said that planning and modeling have made the state’s hospitals well-positioned to help the state withstand the surge in COVID-19 cases.
“The purpose of all that surge planning and response was to ensure that our health care system would not be overrun and could continue to respond to other emergency needs,” Baker said. “People should still call their doctor to talk about their health needs and go to the hospital if they have an emergency.”
Dr. Michael Apkon, the president and CEO of Tufts Medical Center, said there has been a huge decline in non-COVID-19 patient coming to hospitals which can partially be attributed to the drop-in activity and travel as people practice social distancing. “But we also know that part of it is because people are afraid to come to the hospital, and our concern is that that fear is leading to adverse outcomes,” he explained.
“We’ve seen children coming to the hospital after having several days of abdominal pain and coming with a ruptured appendix,” Apkon continued. “We’ve seen patients with symptoms of stroke that are staying at home long beyond the point at which medications that would markedly improve their outcome could safely be delivered. We’ve seen patients with kidney disease that are staying at home, coming to the hospital too sick to be cared for and survive.”
Several Boston hospitals worked together to develop a public service announcement, scheduled to begin airing last week, urging people not to delay medical care.