Meritus modifies care plan as patient volumes spike

On Friday, January 14, officials with Hagerstown’s Meritus Health announced they had put “crisis standards of care” into effect to manage rising case loads and staffing shortages.

“This week, Meritus Medical Center has noted a continued and significant increase in demand for hospital care, intensive care, and increased length of stay,” they wrote in a public health advisory posted on their website.

“Effective January 14, 2022, Meritus Medical Center will implement crisis standards of care. Crisis standards of care are guidelines designed to help organizations and health care professionals deliver the best possible care in circumstances in which resources are severely limited and health care standards are compromised,” said hospital officials.

“In putting the needs of our patients and our community first, implementing Crisis Standards of Care is in response to this unprecedented situation and to provide the best care we can while in a crisis,” explained Carrie Adams, Chief Operating Officer, Meritus Medical Center.

In explaining the recent move, hospital officials said changes could include:

–Expediting hospital discharges, when safe and appropriate

–Encourage the community to seek emergency department care when absolutely necessary

–Transitioning to telehealth care options when applicable

–Simplifying documentation

–Redeploying clinical and non-clinical staff to areas of greatest need

–Modifying surgical schedules consistent with the Governor’s recent orders.

Governor Larry Hogan recently reimplemented a 30-day state of emergency to assist medical facilities in meeting rising patient needs.

“Very simply, there are many patients who require complex care and resources. This is our best way to bring together what is needed to care for our neighbors,” Adams explained. “Meritus Health continues to be here for our community during this extraordinary time. Our healthcare workers continue to go above and beyond to take care of our community.”

Adams said leadership and clinical teams will monitor patient volumes and staffing levels daily to continue to re-evaluate the need for crisis standards of care.

“The fire, that is COVID, is unfortunately burning bright. Now, more than ever, we encourage all to get vaccinated, including the booster to contain the COVID fire and to prevent new ones from starting. There has never been a more compelling sign that this is a disease of the unvaccinated and we will only get through this as our community comes together,” says Maulik Joshi, President and CEO, Meritus Health.​​

Valley Health Systems of Winchester, which operates the War Memorial Hospital in Berkeley Springs and several other regional hospitals, has also said they are adjusting care plans to meet rising patient needs.