Released: 4/1/2020 10:56:04 AM
Buffalo News: It's Unclear if Local Hospitals Can Help Relieve NYC Hospital Pressure
By Thomas J. Prohaska
Published March 31, 2020
Local hospitals are preparing for a possible surge of Covid-19 patients here, their executives say, so it's unclear how they will be able to respond to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call to relieve pressure on New York City hospitals, some of which are swamped with patients.
Cuomo has suggested downstate residents could be transferred to upstate hospitals, but he said Tuesday he would only order that if all New York City hospitals are full.
"You've redistributed the load, you're still over capacity, then send people to the upstate hospitals," Cuomo said during his daily Covid-19 briefing.
But first, Cuomo said, the state will ask upstate hospitals that aren't fully utilized if they can spare staff members.
"We have levels of, sort of, triage," Cuomo said. "You have upstate hospitals that are nowhere near capacity, send your staff down to New York City hospitals."
The leaders of the major local hospitals say they have spoken with the State Health Department about a patient transfer plan.
Jody Lomeo, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, made it clear his top priority is caring for local patients.
“We are aware of the state’s request for assistance to help relieve the pressure that the New York City hospitals are feeling right now. We have been in numerous conversations with the Department of Health, Greater New York Hospital Association and others," Lomeo said.
"All along, we have signaled our willingness to assist the best that we can, but it is all contingent on us having the capacity to do so. Our priority is to continue to take care of the patients here in Western New York. Coronavirus volumes in the community are on the rise, so we must be prepared for the surge and all that comes with it," Lomeo said.
“We have maintained a continuous dialogue with the New York State Department of Health and our health care partners across the state, and we’re very concerned with the increasingly difficult circumstances taking place for our fellow New Yorkers and hospitals in the New York City metropolitan area,” said Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., president and CEO of Erie County Medical Center.
“We stand willing to assist and our selfless ECMC caregivers have always risen to the occasion," Quatroche said. "We continue to assess our current needs and short-term surge needs to see where we will have the capacity to do so. We do not know what the overall surge impact will be in our community, but we will continue to prepare for that possibility.”
As of Tuesday, ECMC had 11 patients with the virus – three of them in the intensive care unit – and 22 other patients under investigation for Covid-19.
As of Monday afternoon, Kaleida's Buffalo General Medical Center had 18 confirmed Covid-19 patients, eight of them in the ICU.
Another 39 patients there were under investigation for the virus, while 47 other inpatients tested negative.
At Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, there were 15 confirmed cases, seven in the ICU. The hospital has 18 patients under investigation and 17 that had tested negative.
There were no confirmed Covid-19 cases in Oishei Children's Hospital and DeGraff Memorial Hospital in North Tonawanda as of Monday.
At Oishei, 10 patients were under investigation and eight had tested negative. There were two investigations and one negative test at DeGraff.