News10NBC Investigates: Hospitals over capacity – and no relief in sight

Hospitals Over Capacity

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There were more patients inside Strong Memorial Hospital last week than ever before.

The facility has 886 licensed beds, but it started most days with over 1,000 needing one.

“The number of patients coming to the emergency room is about the same,” said Dr. Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer. “That really hasn’t changed, but what really has been an issue for us is our alternate level of care patients: our patients that are medically stable and able to go to a nursing home, but there’s just no nursing home bed for them to go to.”

That means they’re backing up and taking up much-needed hospital space.

“If you’re not critically ill, you’re going to wait in our emergency room. We’re sorry for that, we’ll try to make you as comfortable as possible, we’ll try to take care of you as quickly as possible, but right now we’re emphasizing care for our critically ill patients: stroke, heart attack, trauma.”

Dr. Michael Apostolakos

Jennifer Lewke, investigate reporter: “So, they should not be surprised to see beds in the hallways and beds in rooms that aren’t typically treatment rooms?”

Dr. Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer: “That’s correct, but I promise them, they’ll get the nursing and medical care and medications and things they need to help their illness, but it’s not the comfort that we want to provide for them.”

Strong recently opened a unit dedicated to patients recovering from brain injuries, but space is so tight inside the hospital, part of that unit is being used to care for others.

Thankfully, respiratory virus season has slowed a bit. Otherwise, we might have an even bigger crisis on our hands. Still, the shortage of nursing home availability will continue to have a massive trickle-down effect.

Lewke: “If they can’t solve that problem, is this a new reality for you?”

Dr. Apostolakos: “I hope not. We are working closely with government officials, with our nursing home partners, and I believe over time, we can find a solution. The sooner the better.”

Most nursing home owners point to two reasons for the shortage of beds: the Medicaid reimbursement rate and a new state law that mandates a certain nurse-to-patient ratio. News10NBC will go in-depth on both of those issues and potential solutions Tuesday.