Luminis Health Moves to Crisis Standards of Care

Due to a significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, Luminis Health is taking the unprecedented step of declaring a crisis at both its hospitals – Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center and Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center.

Since November 1, the healthcare system has seen a 320 percent increase in admitted patients with COVID-19, with more than 205 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals as of this date. This rise in hospitalizations, combined with ongoing staffing shortages, has made it necessary for the health system to implement crisis standards of care in order to continue providing safe and effective care to its patients.

“The decision to declare crisis standards of care was made following careful consideration and discussion,” said Tori Bayless, CEO Luminis Health. “We are following our emergency operations plans. 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. We are all in this together and never more have we needed the support of our communities as we fight through this most challenging time.”

The health care crisis in Maryland is impacting many other Maryland hospitals, who have already implemented crisis standards of care protocols. At the same time we are escalating to crisis status, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has declared Maryland is in a catastrophic healthcare emergency.

Crisis standards of care are used only in times of emergency, when the demand for healthcare exceeds the ability of the health system to provide it through normal means. The modified protocols allow healthcare leaders to change staffing, adjust or delay surgeries, and when necessary, deploy non-clinical staff to assist with patient care. Though rarely used, these protocols have been prepared and approved in advance for just this type of situation and are based on best practices and guided by ethical principles.

“More than 70% of our hospitalized patients are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Stephen Selinger, chief medical officer for Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center. “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. This has an important impact on reducing hospitalizations and emergency room overcrowding.”

The crisis caused by the increase in COVID-19 infections is also leading to increased wait times in the health system’s emergency departments. Adding to the crowding are people inappropriately seeking tests for COVID-19 at the emergency department, rather than going to one of the many test sites around the region, including one led by the Maryland Department of Health at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center.

“While we are always here for serious illness and injuries, we are asking the community to avoid the Emergency Department for non-life-threatening issues,” said Dr. Sunil Madan, chief medical officer at Luminis Health Doctors Community Medical Center. “For COVID-19 tests and less severe illnesses and injuries, patients should visit their primary care provider or go to an urgent care center.”

There are a number of ways the community can help, including:

  • In addition to getting vaccinated and boosted, practice the 3W’s to stop the spread. Wear your mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.
  • Use the emergency room for true medical emergencies, not for minor injuries or COVID testing.
  • If you have COVID-19 and are experiencing minor symptoms, please stay at home and contact your primary care physician if you have questions.