Regional hospitals stretched thin

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Nearly 400 people in Monroe County alone are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and that number continues to grow.

As the big hospitals try to keep up, they’re beginning to lean on smaller facilities in their systems for more help.

Michael Stapleton, the President and CEO of Thompson Health, says “the smaller community hospitals are all just dealing with unprecedented numbers, and the people coming or being brought in–are sicker than normal too.”

“The acuity is extremely high right now so it’s taxing both emotionally and physically to keep up the pace no doubt,” adds Dr. Chad Teeters, President and CEO of Noyes Health.

It’s also tough to keep up with the space needed to treat these additional patients. Stapleton says Thompson recently had 45 patients in an emergency department built to handle 24. He says a few times last week, for the first time in years, the Canandaigua hospital had to go on diversion.

“We were on it for six hours on Tuesday and four hours on Thursday. It allowed us to catch our breath and distribute the other acuity patients throughout the Finger Lakes region to the other hospitals that weren’t as busy so it worked.”

Hospitals that used to be competitors are now having to rely on each other. And big hospitals that used to primarily take patients from the smaller, rural hospitals, are now sending them here.

“I’ve received calls from Buffalo, Syracuse, northern Pennsylvania looking to transfer patients to us,” Teeters offered.

Until very recently, the rural hospitals have been able to accommodate, but now many are at, or over capacity, and worried about what the next weeks and months will bring.

“Now it’s building back up and we are extremely high numbers going into the holidays and the holidays as where we all got pummeled last year,” Stapleton said. And then, there’s the flu to worry about.

“We got very lucky last year there was no flu season if there’s a flu season this year on top of what we’re dealing with right now it’s going to be very concerning.”

During what is already a concerning and stressful time.