Rome Memorial submits surge plan

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Rome Memorial Hospital is submitting its surge plan to increase capacity by 50 percent to the state Department of Health today in preparation of an increase in critically-ill patients from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan addresses three key components including space, equipment and staffing, according to Chief Nursing Officer Samantha Vining.

“The plan takes a multi-dimensional approach of identifying resources inside and outside of the hospital that can be utilized to meet our community’s need,” Vining explained.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo called on all hospitals to try to boost their capacity by 50 percent. He has suggested unused space can be converted to patient-care space and ordered relaxation of state rules on hospital space utilization.

As for the Rome Hospital plan, there are areas and people within the hospital that can be reassigned where they are needed most, although those details were not immediately available. Externally, the hospital is in contact with providers and facilities that can support surge needs, such as the Griffiss Surgery Center. “We have established phone numbers for retired health care personnel or providers who may have temporarily suspended their operations to contact us for emergency credentialing and on-boarding,” Vining said. “We are working with RNs (registered nurses) who expected to graduate in May to assist us in a limited patient care capacity.”

Physicians, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can call the Medical Staff Office at 315-338-7140. All other health care personnel should contact Human Resources at the 1500 N. James St. campus at 315-338-7290. Teams of providers have already developed and tested plans to manage multiple patients on a ventilator because the state has identified this as one of the most critical resources to manage patients who are critically ill.

“We express our deepest appreciation to everyone who has come together to protect our patients, residents, staff and community during this evolving COVID-19 pandemic,” Vining said. “Because of your dedication, teamwork and ingenuity, we are developing and implementing response plans to best meet our community’s needs.”

Executives with the Utica-based Mohawk Valley Health System, operator of St. Elizabeth and St. Luke’s hospitals, said part of their surge plan is the recruitment of physicians, nurses and other health care specialists such as respiratory therapists who have either retired in the past few years or moved to other facilities in the community.

MVHS President and CEO Darlene Stromstad and Chief Physician Executive Kent Hall said the organization is implementing a 30-day work force plan to provide employees with authorized personnel leave to keep people whole financially while also protecting the resources of MVHS.

The governor also said plans are being made to move patients upstate if space, equipment and personnel in the New York metropolitan region are tapped out. New York has more cases than any other, the vast majority downstate. Of 20,875 reported by the state as of Monday morning, 12,305 were in New York City, with the next highest 2,894 in suburban Westchester County. The most upstate is 127 in Albany County. Cuomo attributed the high city number to population density, where many people share mass transit and touch hard surfaces where the virus can linger.

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