New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is a man with a plan—and that plan’s already starting to take shape. In his daily press conference on April 3, Governor Cuomo said that when New York State initially asked for help fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, and 20,000 medical professionals volunteered their time, it offered a glimpse of what New York could do to help the rest of the nation: “[systematizing] the volunteerism [is]…how we beat this damned virus as it marches across the country,” said Governor Cuomo. On the one hand, this would be executed by a tight-knit system of hospitals within New York State, working together with the common cause of “flattening the curve” of the COVID-19 outbreak. Also, once New York State hits its apex of new patients, “we [would] just deploy in front of the virus, as it works its way across the country,” said Cuomo. “New Yorkers are going to take what we’ve amassed, we’re going to take our equipment, we’re going to take our personnel, we’re going to take our knowledge, and we will go to any community that needs help.”
One such hospital that has already been earmarked as part of this statewide system? Saratoga Hospital, per a prepared statement from Saratoga Mayor Meg Kelly and Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton. “The City is proud to have learned that Saratoga Hospital has joined this network of providers, along with several other Capital Region hospitals,” reads the statement. Other regional hospitals include St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany, Ellis Hospital in Schenectady and St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam, among others.
As the governor noted earlier this week, the state has begun moving COVID-19 patients from New York City to Upstate New York hospitals—truly the first example of this statewide hospital system at work. In a separate press conference held on April 3, Albany Medical Center’s President and CEO Dr. Dennis McKenna, MD, confirmed that 14 patients either with COVID-19 or suspected to have the virus were transferred to Albany Med this past Tuesday. Then, again, on Thursday, Albany Med took in six more patients, with a number of other local hospitals taking in patients as well. These included St. Peter’s in Albany, which accepted six COVID-19 patients; Schenectady’s Ellis Hospital, which took in four; and for the first time in its history, Saratoga Hospital, which accepted three outside patients from Queens. In all, per New York State Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker, in the governor’s press conference, “several dozen patients” have been transferred to upstate hospitals from downstate ones.
Governor Cuomo also noted in today’s presser that he’d be signing an executive order that allows the state to take ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE), which are currently sitting unused in state medical facilities, and use them in needier areas of the state such as New York City. The equipment would then either be replaced or the institutions reimbursed for the equipment once they’re used. It’s unclear if any of the Capital Region hospitals would be targeted for their unused equipment.
Currently, New York State is leading the country in the number of cases of COVID-19 by a long shot: Its more than 100,000 total cases dwarves that of New Jersey, which has 29,000-plus, and is second in the nation.