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Western Mass. Hospitals Say They Don't Have To Limit Elective Care — Yet

Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.
Kevin Gutting
Daily Hampshire Gazette / gazettenet.com
Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, Mass.

While the numbers of COVID-19 patients are creeping up, western Massachusetts hospitals have not yet had to limit elective care.

As of this week, the state reports about 80% of all hospital beds in western Massachusetts — and half the intensive care beds — are full.

That's as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to rise across the state with the delta variant.

Unlike earlier in the pandemic, most major hospitals in the four western counties say they can still accommodate all patients seeking care.

But Estevan Garcia, chief medical officer of Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton, encourages people to take care of routine procedures soon.

"Let's not put it off because we could get to a situation — we're hopeful that not, if enough people get vaccinated — where we do have to delay elective surgeries and those kinds of things," he said. "We're not there."

Garcia said Cooley Dickinson has fewer than 10 COVID-19 patients, and he said most are unvaccinated.

Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, where a smaller percentage of people are vaccinated, is reporting almost 70 COVID-19 patients, including 10 in the ICU.

In response to the uptick in cases, Garcia said weekly meetings among all the region's hospitals have just started up again, after a gap of several months.

Cooley Dickinson has also recently strengthened some of its safety measures among staff, including requiring all staff, even if vaccinated, to wear masks around each other.

Karen Brown is a radio and print journalist who focuses on health care, mental health, children’s issues, and other topics about the human condition. She has been a full-time radio reporter for NEPM since 1998.
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