Flu, COVID and RSV on the rise, doctors ask community for help

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – If you’ve been sick lately, you’re not alone. Outpatient visits to doctor’s offices are up across the area and it’s respiratory illness’ that are on the rise. On Wednesday, the top doctors in our region gathered to encourage the community to protect themselves to try and avoid overcrowding our already overcrowded hospitals. 

“When they’re all circulating at once, as they did last year, they can place a very significant strain on our community,” says Dr. Michael Mendoza, the Monroe County Health Commissioner. 

Quite frankly, at the moment… our hospitals can’t take it.

“The healthcare systems remain extremely stressed with patients. Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital remain consistently over 100% occupied and this leads to very long wait times in our emergency rooms and it’s frustrating not only for our patients, but for our staff and faculty trying to take care of patients,” says Dr. Michael Apostolakos, the Chief Medical Officer at URMC. 

And while URMC is building an expansion to help alleviate this problem long-term, in the short term: “With the renovation, we have lost several beds in our emergency department and we seek out other spaces to place patients, but it has put increased pressure, and we find other places in the hospital and other places in the emergency room, but they’re not as convenient or comfortable for our patients,” Dr. Apostolakos said.“ So, this is why it’s especially important this year for the community to come together like they have in the past and help protect not only themselves but their friends and loved ones.”

The situation isn’t much better across town.

“The emergency departments at Rochester Regional also remain very busy, our health system periodically reaches over capacity status where wait times are extended and where additional patients have to wait longer periods of time to receive the care that we would otherwise like to give in a very timely way,” explains Dr. Robert Mayo, the Chief Medical Officer at Rochester Regional Health. 

At this point, for the sake of space and each other, these doctors are asking you to consider a fresh round of vaccines for Flu, COVID and RSV (if you’re over the age of 60).

“We want to get together, we want to have Bills games and gatherings and tailgating with our families and when push comes to shove, we all want to do so safely.  So, I understand people are tired about talking about these things, but we just don’t have the luxury of burying our heads in the sand and hoping it goes away,” Dr. Mendoza says.