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The Massachusetts Nurses Association asked Gov. Charlie Baker to declare a state of emergency Thursday, as hospitals see surging COVID-19 cases and overwhelmed health care workers.
“Two years into this pandemic, we are now at a place we all feared,” Kate Murphy, president of the MNA, wrote in a letter to Baker. “Healthcare workers are overwhelmed and burned out. Healthcare facilities are overrun with both COVID-19 patients and those individuals who delayed care throughout the pandemic, and the system is buckling under the pressure. We are closer than we have ever been to the collapse of the healthcare system.
“Since March 2020, your administration has taken many steps to address this crisis. To address the current crisis, a new State of Emergency should be declared immediately through the end of March.”
The letter then lists 14 recommended actions. The first four of these actions would reinstate policies in place when a first state of emergency was declared in March 2020.
These include to:
Reinstate temporary expedited licensure for out-of-state nurses.
Reinstate liability protection for health care workers working outside their area of practice.
Impose stricter visitor policies at hospitals across the state including restrictions and PPE enforcement.
Require that all staff interacting with patients be provided with new, single-use N95 masks upon request.
In addition, the union recommended the governor require health care facilities to:
Provide onsite testing for symptomatic and asymptomatic employees.
Provide onsite booster shots for health care staff.
Return to previous quarantine procedures for COVID positive health care workers.
Finally, the union recommended that the commonwealth:
Provide additional support for school nurses.
Repeal changes regarding rates for travel nurses.
Support a local manufacturing base for domestic production of PPE.
Include the voices of those on the frontlines in decision making.
Re-establish procedures, specifically, tents outside emergency departments where patients can be tested, to reduce COVID exposure.
Increase the use of the National Guard.
Utilize all health care staff for the delivery of direct patient care.
“We remain in uncertain times,” Murphy concludes. “Our healthcare system and the workers that sustain it are being tested as never before. As the pandemic evolves, more action is needed. We must ensure that the best interests of patients and frontline healthcare personnel are guiding our decisions. We look forward to continuing to work with you and your administration to address these challenges.”
The governor’s office could not be reached for comment.
This article originally appeared on Telegram & Gazette: Closer to collapse of health care system: MNA urges Baker to declare state of emergency during surge