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Temporary hospitals begin opening downstate to deal with virus

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the recommendation of the Army Corps of Engineers regarding four initial sites in New York State for locating temporary hospitals — the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, and locations at SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Old Westbury and the Westchester Convention Center.

Those locations are opening in areas where the coronavirus is a serious concern. In Western New York, Kaleida Health announced Saturday afternoon that it was exploring ways to add beds to the Buffalo area.

“We have taken the approach that the surge is likely coming and that a major spike in positive coronavirus cases will result in sicker patients and increased admissions across the community and our health system,” said Jody L. Lomeo, Kaleida Health chief executive officer. “Having regulatory relief and clear direction from the State can only help us as we move forward.”

For Kaleida Health, increasing bed capacity by 50% could include any or all of the following:

· Re-opening beds at DeGraff Memorial Hospital.

· Additional intensive care beds at all sites (Bradford Regional Medical Center, Buffalo General Medical Center, DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Oishei Children’s Hospital and Olean General Hospital).

· Doubling up private rooms and conversion of old hospital rooms/space.

· Utilization of ambulatory surgery space and ambulatory surgery centers.

· Redeployment of required medical equipment (ventilators, patient beds, etc.).

Lomeo said increasing bed capacity will only increase the need for additional personnel.

Also in the mix is Lakeshore Hospital in Irving, which closed on Feb. 2. Western New York elected officials, including state Sen. George Borrello, have reached out to New York state noting that utilizing the facility is a definite possibility.

Over the past days, an inspection team led by the Army Corps of Engineers, and including state officials from the Office of General Services, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the Department of Health and the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has visited more than a dozen sites to review for temporary hospital use downstate. Upon the Governor’s determination, the Army Corps is expected to immediately begin work to construct the temporary hospitals. The Governor is also requesting FEMA designate four field hospitals with 250 beds each for the state, intended for use in the Javits Center in addition to the temporary hospital to be constructed by the Army Corps.

Cuomo also announced that the state is taking new actions to increase the supply of personal protective equipment – or PPE. The state has identified two million N95 masks for purchase and will send one million to New York City and 500,000 to Long Island. Apparel manufacturers in the state are converting their operations to begin manufacturing masks and other medical equipment, and the state is also exploring manufacturing masks. Additionally, the state is gathering ventilators from different health facilities from across the state to be used in the most critical areas and has already purchased 6,000 additional ventilators.

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