As the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise, Mohawk Valley Health System is now acknowledging that there are capacity concerns, but the biggest issue they're facing is staffing shortages.
Chief Physician Executive Dr. Kent Hall held a media briefing on Thursday.
Right now, there are 211 patients hospitalized at MVHS.
"We are rapidly approaching capacity within the Mohawk Valley Health System," Hall said. "We have implemented the surge plan that we had developed in the spring and that has allowed us to take on many more patients than we would normally have at this time of year.”
Starting Monday, non-essential procedures will be put on hold.
“Unless it is life or limb threatening or it is something related to a cancer diagnosis or something like that, we are really not moving forward with those procedures at this time,” Hall said.
While MVHS has not reached capacity, a shortage in staffing is making things more difficult.
“There was already a pre-existing shortage on nurses, a 1.2 million shortage across the country," Hall said. "Add to that, nurses are human beings are going to get sick. We have a number of our staff currently out with COVID and therefore are not able to work.”
Hall says MVHS is still able to care for patients, but he did say their staff is tired.
A nurse that works at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center spoke to NEWSChannel2 about her concerns.
“We do have available rooms and beds in the hospital but there is absolutely not the staff to take care of them," Lily Werenczak said. “On med surge sometimes, the nurses are taking up to 14 patients. Safe patient ratio for med surge would be 1 nurse for 5 patients so they’re almost tripling what would be considered safe by many standards.”
She says she she wants hospital leaders to be more aggressive in their search and recruitment for more nurses and staff members.
“The patients are suffering immensely, it brings tears to my eyes, it brings tears to other nurses and health care workers eyes, not being able to provide the care the patients deserve," Werenczak said.
Hall says they are doing what they can. He says they are working with national staffing firms to try to recruit more staff members. He also says that is why they are stopping elective procedures.
“We calculate that in doing that, we will free up probably about 28 to 30 nurses and about 12 to 15 clinical assistants that can help the nurses on the floor," Hall said.