By Anaridis Rodriguez

TAUNTON (CBS) – Days ahead of a coronavirus pandemic peak, a new plan to deal with an increase in patients is not going over well in Taunton.

“In the community with only one hospital, that’s the hospital they decide to do a COVID-19 facility. That doesn’t make any common sense to me,” said State Senator Marc Pacheco.

Over the weekend, Morton Hospital’s owner and operator, Steward Health, announced the Taunton facility will become a dedicated COVID-19 operation. Only emergency care will be open to all.

“It isn’t a matter of just going down the street to another hospital. We’re talking 20 miles to get to the next facility,” Pacheco told WBZ-TV.

Pacheco says the plan was put in place without notice, violates civil rights, and raises serious concerns over gaps in inpatient care. He wants Gov. Charlie Baker or the Attorney General to intervene.

Pacheco’s proposing the now closed Taunton Nursing Home as an adequate site.

“Since when do we have a private corporation make the decision for the government, as to what the governmental plan should be in a state of emergency?” Pacheco said. “I’m not talking about not taking care of COVID-19 patients. Obviously we need to do both.”

Also looking for state government to step in is the Massachusetts Nurses Association.

“Where’s the process? Where’s the regional approach that said is there another city nearby that has multiple hospitals?” said Dana Simon.

Simon, a union executive, says front-line staff lacks the proper PPE for intense treatment and worries more workers will become sick.

“The doctors, the nurses, everyone else who are treating the patients, they’re going to treat the patients. They’re going to treat the patients even if the situation is unsafe for them,” Simon said.

In a statement to WBZ, Steward Health said isolating Coronavirus patients is critical in containing the spread at hospitals – adding in part “similar focused care models have proven to reduce COVID-19 mortality rates.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Baker is planning for the projected surge by asking teaching hospitals double ICU capacity.

“Based on our projections we need to expand capacity of ICU beds by approximately 500 beds in the coming weeks,” Baker said during a conference last week.

The administration is also opening up field hospitals for acute care.

Anaridis Rodriguez


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