BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Anne Arundel Medical Center and Doctors Community Medical Center are pivoting to crisis standards of care due to a sharp increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The number of COVID-19 patients across both hospitals stands at more than 205, a 320-percent increase since Nov. 1, according to figures released Tuesday by their parent company, Luminis Health.

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Luminis CEO Tori Bayless said the move, which was based on a combination of rising hospitalizations and staff shortages, was made “following careful consideration and discussion.”

“We are following our emergency operations plans,” Bayless said. “Decisions will be guided by a focus on maximizing our resources to care for our patients. These crisis protocols allow us to quickly pivot to help meet the overwhelming demand for hospital services.”

The move comes the same day the Maryland Department of Health reported that hospitalizations statewide had surpassed 3,000, reaching their highest point since the start of the pandemic.

Luminis Health said the crisis has already resulted in longer emergency room wait times at its hospitals.

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The hospitals, which shifted last month to contingency standards of care, join several others that have pivoted to crisis standards of care after seeing COVID-19 hospitalizations soar in recent weeks.

Crisis standards of care, which are considered an emergency measure, are only implemented when the demand for healthcare outpaces the hospitals’ ability to take care of patients. They allow hospitals to make staffing changes, adjust surgical schedules and use non-clinical staff to help with patient care.

Over 70% of COVID-19 patients at Anne Arundel Medical Center are unvaccinated, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stephen Selinger said. That’s why the health system is encouraging Marylanders to get vaccinated.

“With Omicron spreading rapidly, it is critical our community get the vaccine and the booster as soon as possible and continue masking in public to help minimize COVID-19 symptoms and severity,” Selinger said. “This has an important impact on reducing hospitalizations and emergency room overcrowding.”

Luminis is asking for the community to do its part by getting vaccinated and boosted, wearing masks in public, keeping a social distance and washing their hands. The health system is also asking for people to avoid going to the ER unless they’re dealing with an emergency.

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“For COVID-19 tests and less severe illnesses and injuries, patients should visit their primary care provider or go to an urgent care center,” said Dr. Sunil Madan, the chief medical officer for Doctors Community Medical Center.

CBS Baltimore Staff