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Hospital numbers vital to the public

While we appreciate the Chautauqua County Health Department’s daily updates on COVID-19 cases, we have to admit we are a bit disappointed in how the major county hospitals are responding to queries from our newspapers. As of Tuesday, the hospitalization rates for the virus are about as high as they have been since last January with 31 reported in health-care facilities.

In the meantime, hospital officials here are not disclosing just how many beds are filled or how busy emergency rooms are on a daily basis. That disclosure, by the way, does not violate Health Information Privacy — or HIPAA guidelines. Names of those being treated are not being identified, just the numbers associated with the institutions.

Over the past week, our newspapers have reached out to UPMC Chautauqua and Brooks-TLC to find very little disclosure on numbers by both institutions. It’s been easier to get information from concerned residents and from Facebook than it has from hospitals – and that’s really disconcerting because we’re not sure all that we are being told is true. After all, you can’t believe everything you read on Facebook, which is why we are looking for some clarification from these institutions that rely heavily on public dollars to care for our community.

We do know the demands in health care at this time. We also know community members need all the information they can get when it comes to COVID. Hospitals need to be part of that discussion.

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