Health Systems Evaluate Surge Capacity in Collective Fight Against COVID-19

Harris Beach PLLC

As New York state’s COVID-19 numbers grow, local communities have been asked to evaluate its surge capacity plans.

Health systems across the state have submitted to the NYS Department of Health “surge capacity plans” evidencing their readiness to support potential surge needs. For most, this will include conversion of clinical space to increase bed counts, and may ultimately allow for use of non-traditional space or use of outpatient facilities (currently sitting idle). Hospitals have and will continue to postpone non-urgent surgeries and procedures. Hospitals will also redeploy medical staff within acute settings as needed. Importantly, if New York sees a huge uptick in those infected with COVID-19, surge plans might include doubling up on non-COVID-19 patients and creating makeshift field hospitals. In addition, per the Governor’s recent directives, if downstate hospitals become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, upstate hospitals will be asked to absorb those patients.

For example, the two health systems in Greater Rochester, New York - Rochester Regional Health and UR Medicine - will continue to work with the Monroe County Health Department and government leaders. Their collaboration on coronavirus or COVID-19 response has resulted in a plan to address surge capacity as needed. During a press conference on Friday, health system officials declared a collective fight against COVID-19 and emphasized the importance of collaboration with the public. The public needs to continue to heed warnings, maintain social distancing and wash hands frequently. Regional health systems will utilize Telehealth to evaluate and treat patients remotely, and will now embrace medical tents to screen and test patients for COVID-19. Both systems have redeployed staff within their acute settings and have begun to convert unused hospital space for clinical use. The State’s emphasis is on marshaling health resources and the need for collective action to combat coronavirus.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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