Capital Region hospitals deal with coronavirus pandemic

WNYT Staff
Updated: March 24, 2020 08:50 PM
Created: March 24, 2020 04:59 PM

Governor Cuomo has called on hospitals to bump up their capacity by up to 100-percent. 


Will local hospitals be able to do that? Top doctors and nurses from many of the Capital Region hospitals came together to discuss their plans and ongoing efforts to handle the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday.

Medical professionals from Ellis Medicine, St. Peter’s Health Partners, Albany Medical Center, Saratoga Hospital, Glens Falls Hospital, Columbia Memorial Health, and St. Mary’s in Amsterdam gathered on Tuesday. All of the hospitals were focused on surge planning. That means getting ready for that influx of patients. 

As of Tuesday, all elective surgeries at Albany Medical Center, and many other Capital Region hospitals, have been halted. This, as they anticipate needing that staff and resources to handle an influx of coronavirus patients over the coming weeks. 

Albany Medical Center has also made other big changes. The hospital is monitoring everyone that comes in the building. They are taking temperatures and asking people whether or not they are exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms. Visitors are only being allowed in for critical cases.

To date, Albany Medical Center says they've done 1,642 tests, with 79 positive cases identified. Of the 79 cases, 11 cases required hospitalization. As of Tuesday afternoon, only six people remain in the hospital. 

Last week the hospital announced they would stop community testing. Now testing efforts are directed towards patients presenting more severe symptoms related to coronavirus, as well as staff members who are feeling ill or presenting symptoms. 

As for available beds, officials say they’ve worked to increase the number of beds by 50-percent, as previously ordered by the governor. Now they are working to get up to the 100-percent increase requested by Governor Cuomo on Tuesday. 

All of the hospitals are taking immediate steps to make more hospital beds available.

They also talked about concerns over a lack of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks, and gowns. The hospitals say they have what they need for now. The supplies are being used in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Mary Jo LaPosta, Chief Nursing Officer at Saratoga Hospital, addressed concerns she is hearing from many nurses and staff about how and when those items are being used. 

"Sometimes when fear gets in the way of communication, rumors start, and we aren’t working closely together. I think that is one of the big challenges that we are facing," said LaPosta.

"I do want to reflect on all of the good work the hospitals are reporting, and I can tell you that each one of those plans that were developed by each hospital in this region, nursing was at the table," she added. 

Bottom line,  if you walk into a hospital, you are not going to see every staff member or everyone in the building wearing a mask. That is simply not how they normally operate. Doctors stress it is important to note that coronavirus patients are being treated in secure and separate areas. In those areas, they are following those stricter new protocols. 

To hear more about what the hospitals are doing, click on Jacquie Slater's report. 

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