WNY healthcare providers feeling cautiously optimistic amid COVID resurgence


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)– With the second wave of the pandemic making its way through Western New York, the region’s healthcare providers are feeling cautiously optimistic. Experience from COVID’s first wave is playing a big part.

Michael Hughes represents Kaleida Health, the region’s largest provider. He says the system started preparing in July, focusing on testing, space planning, their workforce and supplies and equipment.

Hughes says, “What we went through in the spring really positioned us well for what is coming at us now, which is that second wave.”

The system’s capacity is about 70% of the peak in the spring, and they continue to offer elective surgeries. But the next month will be telling.

So if you really look at the next two to four weeks, really that will determine what type of capacity issues we have as a community and whether or not elective surgeries need to be rescheduled.

Michael Hughes, Kaleida Health

ECMC is at about half the capacity of the spring peak, as of November 20. They used the summer when numbers were low to plan for the expected increase in the fall. E

Elective surgeries continue, and likely will continue, because they’re keeping COVID patients separate from the rest of the hospital’s population.

Charlene Ludlow, Chief Safety Officer for ECMC said, “We really don’t know what’s going to be happening for the next few weeks, but I really think we’re much more prepared for whatever that happens to be.”

The same is true for hospitals run by Catholic Health. They’ve canceled in-patient elective surgeries, and they’ve closed the ER at St. Joe’s in Cheektowaga.

Both are providing them more flexibility to respond to an increase in hospitalizations.

But local healthcare leaders agree preparedness is no match for the community taking its own responsibility to control the spread of COVID-19.

“All the health systems in WNY are prepared as we can be. However, there’s one factor: it’s the people watching tonight, and tomorrow and the next day, and what will they do.”

Mark Sullivan, President and CEO, Catholic Health

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