The hospital also changed its visitor policy, which went into effect Wednesday. Adult patients in the emergency department and some inpatient units will not be allowed to have visitors unless approved by the care team. Patients in labor and delivery can have one support person, and pediatric patients can have their parents or caregivers with them.
Kristen Perfetuo, a spokesperson for the hospital, said it is converting Pratt 4N, normally a 16-bed pediatric unit, to hold more beds for medical and surgical patients. She said that will allow the hospital to admit more patients while others are waiting to be transferred to skilled nursing and other post-acute facilities.
South Shore Health President and CEO Dr. Allen Smith said last week that the health system, like others in Massachusetts, has postponed in-patient elective surgeries, launched incentive programs to attract new staff and brought in members of the National Guard to help with various tasks.
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He said the hospital is grappling with a huge surge in COVID, coupled with patients coming in with other illnesses.
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“In this wave, we’re seeing tremendous amounts of COVID as we’re seeing nationally, and we’re also seeing the normal things we see, plus the impact of delayed care,” he said last week. “We are full with both COVID and non-COVID.”
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The health system has also implemented a labor pool to move staff around between departments and roles as needed. Perfetuo said nearly 100 employees from across the health system are in the pool. The health system also launched a self-swab testing site at South Shore Medical Center in Norwell. The service is currently available to patients only, but Perfetuo said it will soon open to the general community.
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