WARSAW, N.Y. (WIVB) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer visited the Wyoming County Community Hospital Sunday afternoon to launch a two-pronged push to get local hospitals overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases the help they need as the winter months approach and with the Omicron variant on the rise.
Included in the 32 hospitals Schumer discussed were ECMC, Mercy Hospital, Mount St. Mary’s, Sisters Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester General, F.F. Thompson and Highland Hospital. The local hospitals have been challenged with caring for new COVID-related hospital admissions, while not gaining revenue from elective surgeries, which have been postponed due to a spike in those admissions.
Schumer first called on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take into account that the surge in COVID cases requires immediate action to keep WNY communities safe, with many hospitals facing states of emergency, when determining the next round of the American Rescue Plan’s pandemic Provider Relief Fund (PRF) payment calculations.
Schumer said that the next round of PRF payments are currently not taking COVID prevalence into account, but rather weeks-old financial information regarding revenues lost and additional expenses due to the pandemic. He said providers had to submit data around a month ago to be considered for a portion of the $17 billion in funding, meaning the data would not account for this current surge that many WNY hospitals are facing.
“Western New York hospitals are on the frontlines battling the many variants of COVID and many, like the Wyoming County Community Hospital, are struggling to keep up with the surge.” said Schumer. During this time of crisis, it’s imperative that the feds do all they can to help those on the ground and right now, I’m asking them to step up and do more.”
Secondly, he called on HHS to get the payments to struggling hospitals as soon as possible to help cover the rising costs and combat the spread of COVID. As of Dec. 10, Wyoming County and Orleans County were tied with the highest daily average number of cases among counties in the state, with 103, with the next highest being Genesee County, with 100. Among regions, Western New York and the Finger Lakes have the highest rates across the state, according to Schumer.
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