Monroe Co. Working on Plan with Area Hospital Networks to Increase Capacity

Officials of Monroe County and the Rochester are's two health care systems say they will be able to more than double the area's usual complement of hospital beds to handle an expected surge in coronavirus patients.

With the expected peak of the infection as much as three weeks away, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered hospitals to figure out how to boost their patient capacity by at least 50 percent, and hopefully 100 percent. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says together the county, University of Rochester Health and Rochester Regional Health are prepared to handle more than 100 percent expansion.

It's a four-step plan which is currently on step one: postponing surgeries and other procedures that can be safely delayed to free up existing hospital beds. That has already been done. If necessary, ambulatory care clinics and other non-traditional spaces would be converted to hospital beds. Plans have been drawn up to staff them. Stage three would involve doubling up patients in hospital rooms and adding more beds and equipment to non-traditional hospital spaces. Stage four would involve setting up a field hospital at one of four locations the county has scouted out.

County Executive Bello wouldn't say where the four possible surge hospital sites are, citing confidential negotiations, but said they would have to handle between 500 and 1,000 beds.

Using these plans, officials say they can go from 1,969 hospital beds to 4,044, staffed and equipped with ventilators to handle ICU patients.

Officials of both UR Medicine and RRH say they have the staff and equipment including ventilators lined up to handle an expected surge in patients. They also say they hope the third and fourth stages of their plan won't be needed, if people in the community continue to practice social distancing and frequent hand washing.

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