#COVID-19 Continues To Impact NY Hospitals | WAMC

#COVID-19 Continues To Impact NY Hospitals

May 1, 2020

Some greater Capital Region hospitals are re-starting elective surgeries, while others remain on coronavirus duty only.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is allowing a little more than half the state’s counties’ hospitals to re-start elective surgeries. Saying he wants to maintain bed capacity for intensive care units, Cuomo is not allowing hospitals in most of the Capital Region to return to elective procedures — only Saratoga, Fulton, Schoharie and Herkimer, as well as Oneida to the west. Cuomo says his goal is to not let hospitals get above 70% capacity, and keep a 30-day supply of necessary equipment stockpiled.

"You need a buffer on the hospital system, and that's why we say 70 to 30. Different regions in the state are not out of the woods yet. And, don't get cocky, right? Don't get cocky, don't get arrogant. We still see a high number in many places, and where the number is higher we don't want to relax the elective surgery because we may need those beds for people who are gasping for air, literally."

Dr. Dennis McKenna is President and CEO of Albany Medical Center.

"The counties that are not allowed to start what he's calling elective procedures would be Albany, Rensselaer, Columbia, Greene, Schenectady, Warren County, Fulton-Montgomery. The only one that would be allowed to do it is Saratoga County. We looked at the directive. We're going to certaily go through the process of appeal. When we look at that we believe, absolutely, we can safely care for the COVID-19 population as well as start doing more of what I call not elective procedures, but I have to call them 'medically necessary procedures.'"

Cuomo offered this alternative on Thursday:

"Worst-case scenario you go to Saratoga County, if you really have to go now. But we don't want to be in a situation where we have a COVID outbreak and we have no hospital beds. That would be the worst."

"We are in constant communication with the governor's office. We have certain people in there who we speak to on a regular basis. They've been very helpful. We've certainly begun to dialogue this with local area politicians, and we expect by next week, when we submit our application for the waiver to have the endorsement of several, and we'll certainly speak about that when we do. We think that we're gonna be able to get that because this is important for the care of people in the Capital Region. They deserve the ability to access specialty appointments, whether or not they have COVID-19. And there's a lot of what I would call again medically necessary care that's been paused now for almost two months."

Other hospitals that responded to requests for comment include Cobleskill Regional Hospital, in Schoharie County, which expects "to resume procedures over the next couple of weeks and will get patients scheduled as quickly as possible." Ellis Medicine in Schenectady said in a statement "it’s abundantly clear that we want to resume elective surgeries and will do so in a manner that’s safe for patients and staff."

Ellis also provided a testing total for Schenectady County mobile sites: 569 people showed up this week. Results of their COVID-19 tests are not yet in.

Testing at the hospital’s McClellan site was called off Friday due to forecast thunderstorms.

Albany's Victory Church says it purchased 5,000 washable three-layer face masks and 5,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, along with 2500 quarantine bags filled with snacks. All are to be given away Saturday from 12 to 4 at Crossgates Mall.