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Capacity levels lead to surge diversion at Brooks-TLC

OBSERVER Photo Brooks Memorial Hospital.

Brooks-TLC Hospital System, which had been under an EMS Surge Diversion that was authorized by New York state on Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning, was more about staffing levels than the availability of beds.

Mary E. LaRowe, president and chief executive officer of Brooks-TLC, said Wednesday that at one point during the evening, the the hospital on Central Avenue in Dunkirk was at 100% capacity. She explained that number has just as much to do with staffing as it does with bed capacity.

According to the state notice, emergency medical services were directed to transport patients to an alternate hospital from 7 p.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday. “The current patient load exceeds the hospital’s ability to treat patients promptly,” the notice indicated.

Last week, LaRowe said the greatest issues Brooks-TLC was facing in regard to the increasing COVID-19 numbers had to do with keeping staff levels appropriate. “We have a surge plan that allows us to add beds to accommodate a good uptick in patient census,” she said last week. “However, staffing is the largest challenge for many hospitals and Brooks-TLC is no different. We are competing with staffing agencies across the country for nurses and other key front-line staff. Beds are not the issue right now.”

LaRowe said she was remaining in contact with officials from the state Health Department regarding the situation.

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