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COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in Western New York; focus now on flattening hospital admissions

The latest data from the NYS regional COVID-19 dashboard shows two days ago, 273 people were in WNY hospitals with COVID — the highest of any point in the pandemic.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Hospitalizations in Western New York have reached their highest point of any time during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The latest data from New York State's regional COVID-19 dashboard shows that two days ago, 273 people were in Western New York hospitals with COVID-19 — the highest of any point in the pandemic.

"Because of living room spread, the lack of masking, and social distancing and hand washing, that we've seen an uptick that really is going to eclipse what we saw in the spring," said Mark Sullivan the president and CEO of Catholic Health.

The state reports about 50 patients are in ICU — that's dramatically lower than what we saw during the first wave. And there's some positive developments as to why that is.

"We have a better way to manage these patients," said Charlene Ludlow, the chief safety officer at ECMC. "Now there are some medications, there's the plasma, there are different treatment modalities now that we're better aware of than what we had in the spring when we were first hit with this."

Local hospital officials tell us capacity is not really an issue right now. One reason for that, COVID-19 patients are staying in hospitals for shorter periods of time. At ECMC for example, during the first wave, hospital stays were about 17 days on average, now they are eight days.

"Part of that is again is the different populations and the patients we're dealing with," Ludlow said. "The average age of the patient was a little bit older in the spring and it depends on the patients comorbidities and ability to recover."

And many hospitals learned lessons during the first wave on how to create more capacity such as, postponing elective surgeries, which Catholic Health has done for the next two weeks.

"Anything that has the word elective in it we really should take pause and say is there a way to augment staff and that footprint within our buildings," Sullivan said. 

Hospital capacity is constantly reviewed.

"Right now, we're just watching the bed numbers and make sure we have a healthy staff to take care of all the patients that come in," Ludlow said.

Local hospital officials continue to plead with people to follow COVID-19 restrictions, especially with the holiday season here.

Kaleida Health released a statement saying:

“Our COVID positive inpatient numbers continue to rise, consistent with what we are seeing across Western New York. Fortunately, we are not seeing the demand or need for as much ICU utilization as we had back in the spring. That said, this does not diminish the serious of the situation. While we are well positioned and prepared for dealing with this second wave, we really need the community’s help with the three W’s: wearing a mask, washing their hands and watching their distance. If not for anything else but to help protect the frontline healthcare workers who deal with COVID every day.”