Respiratory illnesses on the rise in Monroe County, hospitals overloaded

Respiratory virus surging in Monroe County

Respiratory virus surging in Monroe County

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — COVID-19, Flu and RSV cases are surging in the area. The COVID-19 hospital admission level in Monroe County is now considered “medium,” the number of flu cases has more than doubled in the last two weeks, and nearly 100 children and adults have been hospitalized for RSV. 

The surge in respiratory illnesses is placing additional stress on our already overburdened and understaffed hospitals.  As News10NBC has been reporting, on most days, both Strong Hospital and Rochester General Hospital are already over capacity. 

The number of patients hospitalized in isolation for respiratory illnesses right now at Strong, for example, has more than doubled since Thanksgiving. 

Doctors at both URMC and RRH say most medical workers are back to wearing masks and they’re asking visitors to stay home if you have any signs of a cold or cough. 

They’re also doing what they can to make space and in some cases that means transporting patients from one hospital to another.

“We are frequently in the 105-110% capacity range,” explains Dr. Michael Apostolakos, the Chief Medical Officer for both Strong and Highland Hospitals. “One advantage of being a system is being able to load balance patients across the system.”

Both health systems say the situation isn’t as dire as it was during the height of the COVID pandemic, but it is very impactful.

“Our ongoing need to manage our resources is a daily matter of importance,” says Dr. Robert Mayo, the Chief Medical Officer for RRH. “Some days our emergency rooms have very few patients waiting for admission, and other days they’re very overloaded where there could be 50 to 70 patients waiting for an inpatient bed. And that’s not ideal. It’s not good for patients to be in hallways or families to be waiting.”

Dr. Mike Mendoza, the Commissioner of the Monroe County Department of Public Health is urging people to start with their primary care doctor first if possible.

“We want to encourage people to be aware of their symptoms. Don’t let things brew too long. Don’t hesitate to use MyChart or some other way to reach your primary care practice and get evaluated as soon as possible, because we can more than happily take care of you and would rather take care of you before you get to be so ill that you need to be seen at the emergency department,” he says.