On Tuesday, the leaders of all of the Capital Region’s hospitals joined together for a press conference at Albany Medical Center. Despite the unprecedented challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, they say they remain equipped to meet the needs of their patients and staff.
“We are in communication every day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday, making sure we have a united front,” said Dr. David Liebers, the chief medical officer of Ellis Medicine.
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With coronavirus cases continuing to spread, the leaders say they’re partnering more than ever.
“Pretty much, we are in lockstep, and we’ve been planning regionally to synchronize activities for a couple of weeks now at least,” St. Peter’s Health Partners Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Steven Hanks said.
Each executive said their facility is prepared to increase bed capacity by as much as 50 percent by the next week, should positive cases peak.
“We can reassure the public here in Albany we’ll be able to meet the needs of the community in the event we have worst case scenarios,” Dr. Hanks said.
Albany Med alone has tested more than 1,600 people, with about 5 percent coming back positive. The hospital’s incoming president and CEO, Dr. Dennis McKenna, defended a regional decision to no longer offer that testing to patients who aren’t vulnerable or in need of hospitalization.
“It’s not about denying something to the public; the treatment is still the same,” McKenna said. “You go home, you take medications to lower that fever, you stay hydrated, you socially isolate. Not doing that test does not change that management.”
Despite earlier concerns, leaders say patients and staff should not be worried about the facilities running out of protective masks any time soon.
“We continue to look for alternate sources,” said Dr. Ferdinand Venditti, Albany Med’s hospital general director. “Our buyers are really scouring the country and, frankly, the world to try to find these necessary supplies, and will continue to do that.”
The executives hope Tuesday’s message will help assure the public they’re able to overcome the current obstacles and those that lie ahead.
“The COVID epidemic is going to challenge us. We are up to the challenge at this point,” Dr. Liebers said.