URMC, Rochester Regional have twice as many COVID patients than in May, start to cancel elective surgeries

Berkeley Brean
Updated: December 02, 2020 05:12 PM
Created: December 02, 2020 03:03 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — If you think things were bad in the spring, both of our hospital systems have twice as many COVID patients now as they did in May.

Here are the numbers:

  • UR Medicine is caring for 221 COVID patients. 
  • Rochester Regional has 224 COVID patients. 

The systems are spreading out COVID and non-COVID patients to their 11 combined hospitals to balance the load. 

Wednesday, their top doctors told News10NBC they started to cancel some elective surgeries. 

Dr. Michael Apostolakos, Chief Medical Officer at University of Rochester Medical Center: “This frees up some of our hospital beds and staff to treat patients who are seriously ill.”

Dr. Robert Mayo, Chief Medical Officer at Rochester Regional Health: “We are concerned about our health care staff.”

Last week, URMC emailed an urgent request for nurses to pick up overtime shifts. 

One hundred nurses volunteered. 

Fifty shifts were covered over the weekend. 

Canceling some elective surgeries increases the number of beds and staff available. 

There are so many COVID cases in other states like North Dakota, COVID-positive nurses are allowed to work. 

Brean: “How often are your frontline doctors and nurses tested and if a doctor or nurse tests positive but is asymptomatic, will that doctor or nurse be working?”

Dr. Aspostolakos says doctors and nurses at URMC do a symptom check every day and it’s registered with the hospitals. But they are not routinely tested. 

Dr. Apostolakos: “If they have any symptoms whatsoever, they are tested. If they are positive they’re not allowed to work.”

Dr. Mayo: “We do not have COVID positive employees that are working or taking care of patients.”

In the past 10 days, 4,337 people tested positive for COVID-19 in Monroe County. 

That means one of our every three cases the county has recorded had has happened in the last week and a half. 

Brean: “What is worse? The situation in the spring or the situation now?”

Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County Public Health Commissioner: “I think you’re comparing apples to oranges.”

Health commissioner Doctor Michael Mendoza says on the one hand it’s not as bad now because: 

  • We know more about the virus.
  • Better prepared to treat it.
  • And vaccines on the horizon.

Dr. Mendoza: “But in some ways, things are worse. We now have a community that is tired. We have a health care community that is just as frustrated. We owe it to them to take this challenge very seriously.”

Two quick points:

If you have an elective surgery coming up – the doctors say assume it’s still on unless you get called by your doctor. 

And doctors and nurses at URMC can work if they’ve been exposed to COVID, as long as they test negative, have no symptoms and quarantine before and after their shift.


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