URMC, Rochester Regional assessing capacity as COVID-19 cases rise

Jennifer Lewke
Updated: November 16, 2020 05:12 PM
Created: November 16, 2020 04:02 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — As Monroe County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, the number of people who require hospitalization for the virus is on the rise too.

Hospital administrators say, so far—they're okay—but the numbers are growing.  


They say with the “second wave,” the issue isn't going to be as much about capacity as it is, staffing.

The COVID floors at our local hospitals are filling up. 

Dr. Michael Apostolakos, Chief Medical Officer of Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals: “We've gone from 10 patients to about 90 patients already in a few short weeks.”

There's another 90 COVID-19 patients at Rochester General Hospital and Unity Hospital.

Apostolakos: “What's different about the second surge of COVID is that the patients aren't requiring as much intensive care as they did previously.”

That's a plus when it comes to ventilator capacity but they still need private rooms and specialized care. The problem?

Apostolakos: “Just like the general population we have some staff who have gotten ill with COVID the majority of them who have been exposed have been exposed outside the hospital like everybody else but that does drain on our capacity and that we don't have as many staff that are available to help care for patients.”

The same is true for Rochester Regional Health.

Dr. Robert Mayo, Chief Medical Officer of Rochester Regional Health: “We are seeing increasing numbers of our staff with the infection. [...] It's a serious concern about keeping the staff healthy so they can help take care of the community, yes we definitely have that concern.”

Both Rochester Regional and URMC say they're working with staffing agencies to back-fill while employees recover. At this point, neither health system is COVID testing all of its employees regularly but keeping a close eye on positive cases.  

Apostolakos: “The numbers are always a concern, they're not huge at this point but we are concerned that this may spread further and therefore we have been doing a lot of internal reeducation and discussion to keep each other safe outside the hospital.”

So, at the moment the focus is on staffing but if capacity does become an issue at any point, Apostolakos says URMC has a plan.

Apostolakos: “There is consideration that if things continue to worsen with COVID that we may have to cut back on some elective surgeries not all of them but the ones that use the most services the most impatient bed days or ICU care.”

Both URMC and Rochester Regional also do their own COVID testing. 

Both are processing 2,000 to 2,500 tests per day.  

Symptomatic tests get processed first, and normally get results back within 24 hours.

Asymptomatic cases may now take two or three days to get results.

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