Capacity reaches its limit at Albany hospitals, leaders plan limits to elective procedures


CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Capital Region hospitals have barely enough room to breathe. A NYS Department of Health representative confirms data shows Albany Medical Center, Samaritan Hospital, and Saratoga Hospital all hover close to 90 percent capacity, while Glens Falls Hospital confirmed Wednesday that beds were completely packed before the Thanksgiving holiday even started.

“We were as full as we could be based on staffing levels, yes. We have space, but staffing is the crucial issue,” explains Glens Falls Hospital & Community Engagement Vice President Ray Agnew.

Governor Kathy Hochul’s Executive Order 11 declaring a state of emergency says the state’s COVID transmission rate is at its highest since April and admissions are up to more than 300 a day. The order says hospitals have until Friday to free up space or start eliminating elective surgeries, leading those in the Capital Region to start getting creative.

“Using blocks for anesthesia, using different kinds of anesthesia so they recover quickly, and we’ve even discharged a few patients to the Hilton connected here to the medical center and then had them come the next morning to be seen by their physician,” explains Albany Medical Center Hospital General Director Dr. Fred Venditti.

However, some worry the order may not aid as intended.

“The vast majority of our elective procedures don’t require an overnight stay. So that would not affect capacity. And also it would not necessarily aid staffing because, an operating room nurse can’t just go up, for example, to the ICU. Those are different disciplines, different trainings, different procedures,” Agnew says to NEWS10 ABC’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Although Hochul has suggested National Guard lend a hand to hospitals, there’s additional concern for those health staff who are also service members.

“We would be a little concerned if they were called up and had to leave their jobs here to go work somewhere else,” Agnew says.

Local health care professionals also add though COVID response is all important, the vast majority of current bed space is taken up by those with other health conditions, reaffirming the need for preventative care.

“There is a, sort of a ‘quiet pandemic’ going on non-COVID, and that’s people delaying care that they need,” Dr. Venditti says. “People are coming in much sicker than they would ordinarily be because they’ve delayed care. So if you need to see a doctor, do so. If you think you need to come to the emergency room, don’t be afraid to get the care you need. Particularly, don’t skip preventative care that has the possibility to catch disease early.”

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