Local hospitals deal with overcrowding

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SAYRE, Pa. (WETM) — Hospitals across the region have been dealing with an influx of patients, but not because of the coronavirus.

Dr. Michael Scalzone, Chief Quality Officer at Guthrie, said Guthrie’s hospitals are busy and there are a lot of people needing hospitalization.

“It is not just COVID, there are a lot of other illnesses beyond that being hospitalized right now,” said Dr. Scalzone. “If we look at our COVID volume, it is about half of what we saw in the winter. We have adequate space to take care of patients right now because we have five hospitals. We can sometimes sort of shift patients to where the best site of care is for them.”

Dr. Scalzone said the busyness of Guthrie’s hospitals is connected to challenges with nurse staffing as well. Staffing shortages are affecting hospitals across the country, including in the Twin Tiers. However, this shortage is not due to the healthcare worker vaccine mandate recently implemented.

“The vaccine mandate was not a major challenge for us in the sense of being able to staff our facilities,” said Dr. Scalzone. “We were pleased with how our staff responded to the vaccination requirement.”

There has also been an increase in patient transfers as other hospitals manage staffing shortages.

“I can tell you we are already seeing that,” said Dr. Scalzone. “We track the number of transfers that come into our tertiary care center in Sayre. It’s about twice as many patients a day as we saw a month ago. We are seeing that some of the other facilities in the area just can’t accept those patients and they are coming our direction. For now, we can accept those patients and we’re pleased about that. But, we do know that there is stress for all of the others around us: Syracuse, Rochester, and elsewhere. It’s a difficult time in health care for everyone right now.”

Dr. Scalzone also commented on the increasing COVID-19 cases in the Twin Tiers. While cases are rising, the demographic is shifting.

“If we look at the last month, there’s significantly younger school-aged kids or young adults that are getting infected,” said Dr. Scalzone. “They are less likely to be needing hospitalized services, which is of course a good thing. So we’re hopeful that even though the cases are rising, the stress on the hospital system may not rise as quickly.”

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