Capital Region hospitals give coronavirus preparedness updates

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Leaders from area hospitals met at Albany Medical Center on Tuesday to give an update on the coordinated health care systems’ preparedness plans.

Medical centers and hospitals involved include:

Health officials addressed testing guidelines, surge capacity, elective procedures, staffing precautions, and community response.

Testing Guidelines

Area hospitals are suspending community testing and reserving tests for symptomatic health care workers, first responders and others with high-risk exposure, and inpatients under investigation at those hospitals for COVID-19.

Operated by emergency medical staff, Albany Med’s treatment site is staying open for examinations and evaluations.

Call your doctor if you think you have coronavirus symptoms.

Surge Capacity

New York Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker requested every New York hospital to submit a surge plan showing how to increase capacity by 50%. Addressing Albany Med’s capacity for a potential rise in patients:

“Prior to the Department of Health’s request, we began creatively looking at space throughout the hospital, and have developed staffing and triage plans to meet the Commissioner’s request to increase our capacity.”

Dr. Fred Venditti, Executive Vice President for System Care Delivery
and Albany Med’s Hospital General Director

Non-Emergency Surgeries

We all took a hard look at ways to improve our surge capacity, one of which was the choice to minimize elective procedures. We are postponing elective and non-emergent surgeries and other procedures at this time to reduce the risk of exposure to both patients and colleagues. This conserves critical protective equipment for our staff and also frees up valuable bed space in all of our facilities as we look toward the anticipated surge of patients as this pandemic progresses.

Dr. Steven Hanks, Chief Clinical Officer of St. Peter’s Health Partners

Nursing Care

The medical network praised its staff for the care given to patients, for managing the fears of families, and for adhering to careful procedures that limit the spread. Employees continually self-monitor for symptoms, and have their temperatures taken before shifts. Employees with a fever above 100, unexplained shortness of breath, or a persistent cough will immediately be masked and sent to a manager.

At every point of connection with a patient—a person—confronting a disease like this in a hospital setting, we must be cautious. Our nursing staffs are on the frontlines, the tip of the spear. So, they are all cautious, following the guidelines to take the most appropriate safety precautions, based on science. … The conflict is when fear confronts science. The resulting stress is not isolated—it is manifested by our patients, their families, and everyone in their circle of care. As leaders, we have to listen and respect that conflict, and provide the best science-based support within our means—but recognize the art and science of the care we are asking all of our staff—our people—to deliver.

Dr. Mary Jo LaPosta, Senior Vice President of Patient Care and Organizational Excellence and Chief Nursing Officer at Saratoga Hospital

Community and Communication

Albany Med and St. Peter’s Health Partners have begun sharing daily updates on their respective websites and social media platforms. The hospitals gave props to their communities, who have shown support through donated equipment and food.

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