ALBANY (WENY) – New York State Governor Kathy Hochul’s executive order regarding hospital capacity will go into effect starting December 3rd.
The order triggers the use of a ‘Surge and Flex System’. This system allows New York State to limit non-essential, non-urgent scheduled health procedures in hospitals under limited capacity. This is currently distinguished as below 10% staff bed capacity.
This comes as COVID hospitalizations have been surging locally for weeks; putting added strain on health systems across the Twin Tiers. Hochul’s order hopes to provide resources, from staff to treatment, for struggling health organizations.
Guthrie’s System Surgical Chair, Dr. Anne Rizzo, MD, has grown nervous for the rest of the region. She claims that in her 30 years of working in medicine, she has never seen resources become this scarce.
“It’s very hard to, even for the big systems in Syracuse and Rochester,” Rizzo said. “The beds are just very tight with very limited staff.”
Doctors across the northeast have begun preparations for another wave of COVID hospitalizations. Chief Medical Officer at Arnot, Dr. Steven Heneghan, MD, believes the holiday season on top of the shortages has health officials already redistributing resources and procedures.
“Most of our regional hospitals are adjusting their elective procedures that are taking resources when we need to do it,” Heneghan said. “I was just on a call with most of the other regional hospitals, everyone has described that they were trying to adjust their elective schedules to flex up, to meet the demand.”
Earlier this week, St. James Hospital in Hornell announced that beginning Friday, it would pause elective surgical procedures, in an effort to boost patient capacity as the hospital deals with a high demands of COVID-19 related admissions.
“We have been running at well over 100% inpatient capacity for several weeks. The vast majority of the COVID-19 positive inpatients are unvaccinated, and are seriously ill by the time they arrive at our emergency department and need to be admitted,” explained Dr. Bilal Ahmed, Chief Medical Officer at St. James Hospital.
Governor Hochul urges New York State residents to get at least two doses of a COVID vaccine to avoid contracting severe COVID symptoms.