WNY healthcare providers feeling cautiously optimistic amid COVID resurgence


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Buffalo, New York (WIVB) – As the second wave of the pandemic unfolds across western New York, healthcare providers in the region are feeling cautiously optimistic. The experience gained from the first wave of COVID plays a huge role.

Michael Hughes represents Kaleida Health, the largest provider in the region. He says the system began preparing in July, with an emphasis on testing, space planning, manpower, fixtures and equipment.

“What we went through in the spring set us really well for what is coming on us now, which is the second wave,” Hughes says.

The system has a capacity of about 70% of its spring peak, and they continue to perform elective surgeries. But next month he will say.

So if you really look at the next two to four weeks, that will really determine what kind of capacity issues we have as a society and whether or not elective surgeries need to be rescheduled or not.

Michael Hughes, Kaleida Health

ECMC capacity is about half that of its spring peak, as of November 20. And they used summer when numbers were low to plan for an expected fall increase. e

Elective surgeries continue, and are likely to continue, as they keep COVID patients separate from the rest of the hospital population.

“We don’t really know what will happen in the next few weeks, but I really think we’re more prepared for whatever happens,” said Charlene Ludlow, chief safety officer at ECMC.

The same is true for hospitals run by Catholic Health. They’ve canceled inpatient elective surgeries, and closed the emergency room at St. Joe’s in Cheektowaga.

Both give them more flexibility to respond to the surge in hospitals.

But local healthcare leaders agree that preparedness is no match for the community to assume its own responsibility to control the spread of COVID-19.

“All health systems in WNY are ready as possible. However, there is one factor: People watch tonight, tomorrow and the next day, and what they will do.”

Mark Sullivan, President and CEO of Catholic Health


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