COVID-19 surge pushes a Maryland health system into ‘contingency protocol’

The number of new COVID-19 cases this month are starting to overwhelm hospitals again. Citing a 325% spike in hospitalizations this month, Luminis Health has declared “contingency protocol” at the two hospitals it operates in the D.C. area.

Luminis operates two hospitals in Maryland: Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis and Doctors Community Medical Center in Lanham. It said a majority of the patients it’s treating for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and it’s beginning to have a major impact around the rest of the hospital too.

“While we remain committed to providing the best care at our hospitals, it is becoming increasingly challenging,” Luminis CEO Tori Bayless said in a statement. The hospital system said challenges from the surge in COVID-19 cases are worsened by ongoing staffing shortages.

The contingency protocols mean all non-life-threatening surgeries scheduled for next week are going to be delayed for an undetermined amount of time. Urgent and emergency surgeries won’t be impacted.

However, if you get sick or injured, and it’s not a life-threatening situation, Luminis suggests going to see your primary care physician or visiting an urgent care center for treatment instead. Likewise, anyone needing a COVID-19 test is being asked to do the same.

People experiencing mild symptoms that could be COVID-19 are being asked to stay home instead of going to the emergency room. If they have questions about their condition, Luminis recommends they call their doctor.

The University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health said on Friday that it declared a “hospital disaster” and implemented crisis standards-of-care protocols at UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air because of a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Meanwhile, an advocate for Maryland’s hospitals says Gov. Larry Hogan should reinstate a public health emergency because of staffing and capacity challenges from a COVID-19 case surge. Maryland Hospital Association CEO Bob Atlas said Tuesday such an action would show how serious the situation is.

Atlas also said hospitals are nearly full, emergency departments are stretched thin and nursing shortages are exacerbating problems.

In response, a Hogan spokesman told the Associated Press that the administration has already taken proactive steps to help hospitals and that additional action will be taken as necessary.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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