A recent New York Times report describes the “growing crisis” in upstate New York, where rising Covid-19 cases and labor shortages have resulted in overflowing nursing homes and hospitals. Governor Kathy Hochul reportedly said last week that hospitalizations in upstate New York “have more than tripled” since the initial Delta wave in August.
The healthcare workforce has lost thousands of employees in that same period, leaving hospitals with about 10% less capacity. The combination of “high patient volumes, reduced staff and an inability to discharge patients to nursing homes” is straining resources in regions like Western New York, the Finger Lakes, and the North Country, per the Times. The report notes that nursing homes are unable to receive patients from hospitals because they are already full.
Governor Hochul declared a state of emergency last week, allowing her to deploy 120 National Guard service members to New York nursing homes to support overburdened employees. Facilities in Long Island, Buffalo, and Rochester are already set to receive National Guard support, with additional facilities expected to be included in the near future.
Hochul announced that Covid-19 hospitalization since August have risen 150% upstate compared to downstate hospitalizations. The Times described one hospital north of Albany where 25% of beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients, and the remaining 75% are occupied by “patients with other ailments, including some who could typically be released to nursing homes but cannot be because of a lack of beds.”
That hospital, Glen Falls Hospital, is in Warren County, which reportedly currently has 93 Covid-19 cases for every 100,000 people, “about 5 times the rate in New York City.” The Times notes further that Warren County’s positivity rate is currently 12%, whereas New York City’s is 2%. It has an above-the-state-average vaccination rate of 72%, though the Times suggests that this is undermined by relaxed precautions in the region. “The convergence of issues is the worst I’ve ever seen it,” the CEO of Erie County Medical Center told the Times. That hospital is reportedly at capacity, with 3,600 employees and 500 job openings. It also reportedly has 52 patients “who could be discharged if there were only nursing homes or group homes that had space for them.”
More information on the Covid-19 surge in upstate New York, and its effects on hospitals and nursing homes, is available via the New York Times.