Albany Medical Center says it’s enhancing preparedness efforts related to the novel coronavirus.
"You should know that on a daily basis, there is still an incident command structure set up, and we are talking on a daily basis with area hospitals, to have a coordinated approach to the COVID-19 situation. Today we're here specifically to talk about what's happening here on this campus." Incoming Albany Medical Center President and CEO Dr. Dennis McKenna says that as of Tuesday the hospital's tent set up outside the emergency room had tested some 1,400 people. While no appointment is needed, AMC recommends checking with your physician before showing up.
By Wednesday afternoon, six people had been hospitalized with COVID-19 at Albany Med. One is in intensive care. Ventilators are on stand-by for patients with severe symptoms. Hospital General Director Ferdinand Venditti is Albany Med's executive vice president for system care delivery. "We have over 75 adult ventilators in the hospital today, fewer than half of them are being used. We were able to lease several additional units in the past couple of days. And actually we've worked with some training sites, to secure some of their ventilators to beef up our supply."
Venditti says the number of test kits available is being closely-watched. The hospital has adequate supplies of equipment to deal with the crisis, including masks and gowns. He adds the staff is well-trained so they can safely do their work of caring for patients. “We do intend to significantly limit traffic into our hospital. We're screening visitors, vendors, delivery folks and others who want to come in with a series of questions about their health, their travel history, and any potential exposures they might have. They screen positive to any of that they're not being allowed into the hospital."
Certain visitors are allowed but must abide by several restrictions. Albany Med's director of epidemiology Rebecca O'Donnell says AMC is policing itself as well. "Given the nature of COVID-19, and what is happening all around us, it is inevitable, a healthcare worker is going to be diagnosed with the virus. But let's be mindful. We're healthcare providers, we routinely screen ourselves for infectious symptoms. And when we have these symptoms, we stay at home while we're sick. In addition, healthcare workers who are contacts of positive cases will go above and beyond this screening. They will now be symptom monitoring twice a day, including twice a day while they're working here. The symptoms that they're looking for include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and if and when we're told a healthcare worker tests positive for COVID-19. That individual will immediately be self-quarantined at home, and we will be working with them to only allow them to come back into this hospital when it is safe."
Elective surgeries are not being canceled or postponed, but Venditti stresses those kinds of decisions are being made case-by-case, day by day. " We've been talking about urgent need to happen can be postponed for perhaps months. And, and, you know… so it's different because there's elective surgery, for example, for cancer that really shouldn't be postponed.”
Again, Dr. McKenna: "The most important thing is to take care of yourself, take care of each other, and we'll be there to serve the community in the days ahead."