Hochul emergency order aims to boost hospital capacity

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 5:03 PM EST
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - New York hospitals are once again seeing a COVID capacity crisis. An emergency order by Gov. Kathy Hochul that goes into effect Friday is aimed at boosting available beds.

Like Vermont, some hospitals in our region are full, but not necessarily with COVID patients. “Currently, we have 2,800 hundred to 2,900 people in the hospital,” Gov. Hochul said.

The number of hospitals at or near capacity is what drove Hochul to declare a state of emergency for hospitals across the state. She says the numbers between upstate and downstate hospitalizations are alarming.

According to state data, the North Country region has an average of 15% beds available. Alice Hyde Hospital in Malone has 19 of 22 beds filled and seven are COVID positive. Elizabethtown Community Hospital has 17 of 25 beds filled and three COVID patients. And CVPH in Plattsburgh says it has 98% of its 210 beds filled and 18 COVID patients.

“Our hospital has made preparations all along. We have backup plans if the hospital really needs them where we can open up more beds if we had to have it -- for instance, ICU -- but it would be at the expense of other services and hopefully it won’t come to that,” said CVPH’s Dr. Keith Collins.

CVPH could come to that under the governor’s new emergency order that starts on Friday. It calls for any hospital with less than 10% capacity to limit elective surgeries. “Making sure that our hospitals have the capacity for an influx of patients, whether its from COVID or otherwise,” Hochul said.

Those elective surgeries play a key role in hospital budgets. Hospitals last year reported a loss of millions of dollars without them. The governor says if a hospital under the threshold can make more space, it won’t need to comply with the order. “We anticipate that number of 30 something is going to drop between now and then as hospitals understand how serious we are about this,” Hochul said.

Local hospital officials say they are still figuring out what the order will mean for them before the Friday deadline.

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