Mass General Declares "Unprecedented Capacity Crisis" Due To Overcrowding

2 Min Read Published January 24, 2024
Mass General Declares "Unprecedented Capacity Crisis" Due To Overcrowding

Massachusetts General Hospital recently experienced one of its most crowded days in its two centuries caring for Boston and its surrounding communities, announcing an “unprecedented capacity crisis" - the first time in its 200-year history. This crisis highlights the immense strains placed on hospitals and healthcare systems in 2024. 

Functioning as a globally acclaimed academic medical center catering to some of the most medically intricate cases in the state, it also serves as the preferred community hospital for Boston and surrounding areas. 

ED Overcrowing 

MGH released a statement stating, “For the past 16 months, the MGH ED has operated nearly every day in “Code Help” or “Capacity Disaster” status, which represents critical levels of ED crowding.” The statement continued to explain the levels of overcrowding. 

  • During the 12-month period from October 2022 to September 2023, patients at the MGH ED spent a combined total of 381,228 hours boarding, indicating a significant 32% increase compared to the preceding year. 

  • In September 2023, the median boarding time for admitted patients in the hospital was 14.1 hours per patient, with 26% of them remaining in the ED for over 24 hours. These individuals often find themselves waiting on stretchers or chairs in hallways or other makeshift areas. 

  • Notably, on January 11, the ED accommodated 103 patients, marking one of the busiest days in MGH's two-century history of providing care to Boston and its surrounding communities.

Addressing The Crisis

MGH has launched a website designed to keep patients and staff informed about the hospital's strategies for managing the current capacity crisis. The site will be regularly updated with the latest information.

The hospital also announced specific steps it's taking to address the crisis including, 

Increase Inpatient Beds:

  • Seeking approval to increase licensed inpatient beds by 94 through an amended Determination of Need application.

  • No additional construction or capital expenditures required.

Discharge Lounge:

  • Facilitates earlier discharges, serving nearly 125 patients monthly.

  • Average patient stay is one hour, freeing up beds sooner.

  • Offers Care Van service for patients needing transportation, transporting over 500 patients since November 2022.

Home Hospital Service:

  • Mass General Brigham Home Hospital provides acute-level care at home.

  • Features 24/7 remote monitoring, multiple daily clinician visits, advanced telehealth, and round-the-clock integrated team support.

  • Ensures world-class services in a home setting.

Patient Transfer and Access Center:

  • Launched in 2023 for a seamless patient experience.

  • Coordinates care for patient transfers within the system, connecting patients with the right bed across academic, specialty, and community hospitals.

  • Enables the movement of lower acuity patients to more suitable and cost-effective settings.

Clinical Collaboration with CHA:

  • MGH urgent and primary care centers proactively redirect patients to CHA Everett for emergency care.

  • MGH inpatients near CHA Everett may choose to complete their hospital stay there when specialized care is no longer needed at MGH.

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