Central Mass. hospital chief says ICU beds are full due to COVID-19 and health crunch

"I’ve been an emergency physician in [Worcester] for three decades, and I’ve never seen it this bad."

Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
The Worcester campus of UMass Memorial Medical Center. Photo by Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

The head of UMass Memorial Health based in Worcester said Wednesday that all the ICU beds in his four-hospital system in central Massachusetts are taken, owing to COVID-19 and other factors.

Dr. Eric Dickson, president and CEO of the system, which has hospitals in Worcester, Marlborough, Leominster, and Southbridge, said in a phone interview that while patients are getting the care they need, “the situation is still critical.” He said all of his hospital system’s roughly 150 intensive care unit beds were taken as of Wednesday morning, with a waiting list. The precise number of people on the waiting list wasn’t immediately available, nor was the breakdown of COVID patients and non-COVID patients.


Asked if a COVID surge was driving the bed shortage, Dickson said that was “part of it,” as was a reduction in available beds at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, a facility outside the UMass system where nurses are on strike. In addition, Dickson said, hospitals also are dealing with “pent up demand” from patients who put off care for non-COVID-related issues during the prior surge last year.

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