ECMC, Buffalo General, Millard Fillmore hospitals considered “full”

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BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) More than 20 months into the Covid pandemic, Buffalo area hospital executives are using an unsettling term rarely heard when it comes to hospital capacity; ‘full’.

“We are full but we have learned how to operate beyond full,” said Dr. Michael Mineo, chief medical officer at Buffalo General, Millard Fillmore Suburban, and DeGraff Hospitals. He said no one is being turned away at Buffalo General or Millard Fillmore Hospital, but they are clearly at a higher capacity than they’d prefer.

Kaleida is working with lower staffing than a year ago, for many reasons according to Dr. Mineo. “This pandemic has been a marathon and people are exhausted. We are seeing people retire earlier, we are seeing people go out on disability who may have discontinued to work. We are seeing full time employees change to part time. They’re just at the point where they just can’t continue this grind any further.”

The Erie County Medical Center has managed to hire 234 workers (86 of them are registered nurses) since August, but is still considered at full patient capacity. The hospital has seen the number of Covid patients grow from 13 last month, to 39 last week, to 58 inpatients Tuesday.

But what’s also compounding the problem at ECMC is that 49 hospital beds are used by patients who are done receiving treatment but who cannot be placed into nursing homes or rehab centers because those places are full.

They are seeing that same problem at Kaleida hospitals according to Dr. Mineo. “You recognize that hospitals are a continuum and if any part of it breaks, the entire system becomes less efficient. We are dependent on post acute beds, places where patients go after their acute care in completed and right now, there’s 200 less post acute beds available in WNY. That means patients are sitting in hospitals that don’t need acute care and are adding to our volumes.”

Smaller rural hospitals like Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville, Allegany County, are now seeing Covid patients make up more than half of their inpatient load. The hospital released this statement Tuesday;

As of this morning, 55-percent of the medical patients at Jones Memorial Hospital were admitted with a serious COVID illness. This led to a delay in admissions from the Emergency Room yesterday. Ambulance squads were advised that depending on the patient’s condition they may have to wait until a bed became available in the ER.

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