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April 8 COVID update

Posted on: 04/08/2020

April 8, 2020 UPDATES ON COVID-19

Bradford Regional Medical Center and Olean General Hospital today released the following updates and reminders regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic:

CONFIRMED CASES – The Cattaraugus County Department of Healthy confirmed 12 positive COVID-19 cases. The McKean County Department of Health continues to report one positive case. The lack of testing kits throughout the U.S. continues to be an issue and therefore, the lack of confirmed cases probably isn’t a true measure of COVID-19 activity in our communities. Therefore, it is important for our patients and residents to practice social distancing, stay home, practice good hand hygiene, etc., to prevent the spread of this virus, according to William Mills, MD, senior vice president, quality and professional affairs, UAHS.

Inpatient cases (4/8/20) –
OGH – 3 COVID positive (2 med/surg; 1 ICU); 6 patients under investigation (PUI)
BRMC - 0 COVID positive; 3 patients under investigation

BRMC/OGH WELL PREPARED – We’re ready, said Jeff Zewe, RN, president, chief executive officer, UAHS, BRMC, OGH.
Over the last month, we’ve worked hard and managed appropriately to plan for the surge. Our surge plans are ready, and include increasing bed capacity at OGH by 75 beds and BRMC by 30 beds, setting up temporary tents by both emergency departments, and enhanced education for our staff and communities.

Our volumes are down 65 percent at the hospitals, outpatient settings and our physician practice network. The prevalence of COVID positive patient numbers in our region is low and we’ve seen few patients coming in with respiratory symptoms. The low volumes are a direct reflection of the overall plan working. The government, hospital, community leaders, EMS and community, at-large, continue to work together sending the consistent message that hand washing and social distancing is the cure. The message is being heard and followed as people are staying home and this is paying off with very few positive confirmed cases in Cattaraugus and McKean counties. The pandemic is far from over but from a medical standpoint we are beginning to see a glimmer of positive signs from the New York City area. Hospitalization rates are trending down as well as ICU usage according to Gov. Cuomo, Zewe said.

We needed to decrease the volume of patients using our facilities so that we could prepare for surge, even though it creates a financial hardship for our hospitals. Phase I is accomplished, which was dealing with a crisis and establishing swift plan to prepare our hospitals for a surge of patients. Again, this is far from over so people need to continue to be vigilant, Zewe said.

Our clinical staff is getting the extra training they need. While the financial strain with all this is significant, we’ve prepared for a surge in our local community. As a doctor, I’m concerned about people getting the healthcare they need. While we are preparing for extra volume, we want people to know we are still open for business if they really need us, Dr. Mills said.

COVID BOOT CAMP – Jeremy Barnett, MD, intensivist, provided training for BRMC and OGH providers who could be called upon to treat critically ill COVID patients. The “boot camp” included hands-on training using ultrasound technology, updates in the use of ventilators, and specific treatment algorithms and protocols for the COVID patient. The boot camp was created and taught by Dr. Barnett with the help of the critical nurses from OGH. This two hour educational session was recorded for other providers to view as well, Dr. Mills said.

Ventilators and PPE – Yesterday, Gov. Cuomo signed his latest executive order, “Continuing Temporary Suspension and Modification of Laws Relating to the Disaster Emergency,” which is designed to cover dozens of issues and parts of state law and help the state manage through the coronavirus crisis.

Of particular interest is the section involving medical equipment (personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators) and supplies. In short, the governor announced a "real-time" solution for all hospitals and healthcare systems in the state. This announcement offers clarity in a time of unease and anxiety. That’s good news.

All equipment and supplies will remain in place until redeployment is needed. If – and only if – redeployment occurs, the state Department of Health (DOH) and the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) would work with providers to rapidly code and transport equipment. The sending hospital would be notified of the location of its ventilators when they reach their destination to facilitate a return. They are not taking the supplies now for stock piling purposes; they are not taking 20 percent of our inventory now and sending it downstate.

Having a collaborative plan like this ensures that equipment and supplies (like ventilators) are available for everyone, regardless of geography. And they only move when an urgent need arises. That could be in Buffalo, the Southern Tier, in Niagara County or anywhere else in New York state. It all depends on the surge or apex that may occur in a community or region. Again, no equipment has moved from Olean General Hospital to this point and it may well be that equipment will not move in the days and weeks ahead. Bradford Regional Medical Center, as a Pennsylvania hospital, would not be part of the plan.

COMMUNITY PRAYER SERVICE – Pastor Jason Hladik and members of the First Baptist Church of Olean organized a prayer service outside OGH April 3. Approximately 130 people participated from their vehicles to pray for all hospital staff and providers as well as all patient care providers in the community. “We were so blessed to see this incredible show of support for our medical providers. The outpouring of compassion from our community is extremely comforting to our staff as they care for our patients during this time,” said Pastor Vickie Hedlund, chaplain, OGH.

ON A POSITIVE NOTE – Our community has shown our hospitals a lot of love and kindness through this pandemic. Groups are making homemade face masks and donating PPE, people have had food delivered from area restaurants to our front line staff and local companies are producing face shields on 3-D printers.

OGH - Special thanks to the Cattaraugus County Emergency Operation Center (EOC) for supplying the OGH emergency department with a trailer and two tents used for storage and to triage patients. The EOC also assisted OGH’s efforts in preparing for a patient surge by locating four critically needed beds, obtaining disinfectant, facemasks, face shields and disposable stethoscopes. They, along with two OGH employees, meet with administration and the COVID -19 steering committee daily via conference call. Their exceptional counsel has been invaluable, according to Steve Jackson, member of the hospital’s COVID response team. 

BRMC – The McKean County Emergency Management Agency donated tents which were placed outside the emergency department to triage patients.

COVID-19 RESPONSE FUND – The Bradford Hospital Foundation and Olean General Hospital Foundation have established COVID-19 Response Funds. Donations to this fund will be used to directly support our front line staff as we face this pandemic. Funds raised will stay with each respective hospital. For more information, or to make a donation, contact the BH Foundation, 814/362-3200,www.brmc.com/foundation, or the OGH Foundation, 716/375-7445, www.ogh.org/foundation. The hospitals are also accepting PPE donations for hospital use which can be delivered at the main entrances between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Note: Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center will not share personal information about patients tested, treated or admitted for COVID-19 in order to protect their privacy as required by federal law.

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