On Tuesday night, Albany Medical Center took in 14, COVID-19 patients as transfers from Queens, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, which some may be concerned about. But, the hospital leadership and nurses say they know they have more resources to help than the city does right now.
"They needed some help in terms of care of some of the patients they had in their emergency department," said Dr. Ferdinand Venditti, the hospital's general director.
Albany Med says last week it was contacted by a regional hospital association to find out what its transfer process was like, if any other hospitals in the area needed help. Dr. Dennis McKenna, the hospital's president and CEO says on Tuesday afternoon they got the call.
Venditti says the ask came from Jamaica Hospital and Flushing Hospital. They say, helping other area hospitals doesn't affect their ability to help patients in our region and Venditti says they have plenty of supplies.
"PPE (personal protective equipment), staff rooms, ventilators, all the critical elements that are necessary to care for patients," Venditti said. "We have very adequate supplies [and] we've been being very careful in how we use them."
But some staff members say conserving supplies is making them feel unsafe. Kathryn Dupuis, a registered nurse at Albany Med says, they're not allowed to wear N95 masks in situations she believes she should be able to have one. While the hospital is following the CDC's guidelines, Dupuis says, she isn't satisfied.
"I don't want to be the person that's carrying that goes in to care for somebody and am asymptomatic and have already done the damage," Dupuis said.
Dupuis works in labor and delivery. She said the hospital had its second COVID-19 positive patient in labor last week and she wasn't allowed to wear a mask. Her concern? It's still unclear if the virus can become airborne when someone is giving birth.
"It was probably one of the first times I can say, I was scared providing care to patients because of what they had," Dupuis said.
She says she understands the need to conserve supplies but that hospitals everywhere can do more right now to protect their staff and patients.
"We don't live in a third world country. We're in America," Dupuis said. "I don't know why we wouldn't go above and beyond. I don't know why we have to do the minimum when we have a pandemic."
Dupuis has family downstate, elderly parents and a friend with terminal cancer, all of whom she's avoiding because she doesn't know if she's been exposed and despite her concerns, believes it's her obligation to treat anyone from anywhere and she believes Albany Med has the resources.
"Whether we have an abundance [of resources] or not, we have more than New York City and it is the right thing to do," Dupuis said. "Even if they gave me one N95 mask and said, 'This is yours to reuse for every vaginal delivery since you feel you need it.' I just don't think it's time to be making our staff not feel safe."
Dupuis says she has coworkers who share her concerns and many of them who are not seeing their families right now because they're worried they've also been exposed.
As for other local hospitals accepting patients, Spectrum News reached out to St. Peters and to Ellis Hospital both of which say they are also ready and willing to accept any patients from any hospitals who need their help.