Auburn Community Hospital fighting against spike in COVID-19 cases

Local News

AUBURN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — In a virtual press conference Monday, the chairperson of the Cayuga County Legislature shared a strong message.

Aileen McNabb-Coleman is asking residents not to gather on New Year’s Eve. She’s also pleading with the community to stay home and utilize delivery services when possible.

“Back on the day before Thanksgiving, it became clear that this pandemic had outgrown the abilities of our health department,” McNabb-Coleman said.

Cayuga County is now working with a New York State “surge team” to help with testing and contact tracing. In the meantime, those at Auburn Community Hospital are working to keep up with the continuous COVID cases coming in on a daily basis.

“We anticipate that the month of January is going to be difficult for everybody,” said Dr. Paul Fu, deputy chief medical officer at Auburn Community Hospital.

Over the last week, Fu said their COVID floor has been filled with patients, with some not making it out alive. Most people stay a minimum of five days to be treated with the drug, Remdesivir. But some people have to sit in that hospital bed for weeks.

“COVID patients can be unpredictable. So sometimes they look like they’re okay and then over the course of several days, they start deteriorating from a respiratory standpoint. The second point is, we’ve had a lot of difficulties transporting patients back to facilities,” Fu said.

COVID patients coming from a nursing home can’t be released until they test negative for the virus–which Dr. Fu says could take anywhere from 14 to 28 days. And on top of all of this, there’s a shortage of people who can care for them.

“We have up to 25% of our staff out, some of them are related to sickness. And some of them are just related to the fact that we’ve had difficulty recruiting nurses during this time,” Fu said.

All of these factors are creating the perfect storm as we head into another holiday.

“A lot of the spread seems to be living room spread where families are very careful when they’re outside when they’re at work. But when they come home, and especially for the holidays, when they have family over or close friends over, that’s when there’s spread,” Fu said.

Fu is hoping the vaccine will bring them some light at the end of this dark tunnel soon. He said Auburn Community got a shipment of 1,000 Moderna shots, with most going to first responders.

Around 200 to 300 employees at Auburn Community got that shot as well. Upstate Medical University distributed doses of the Pfizer vaccine to frontline workers and nursing homes in Auburn.

These working relationships have been beneficial, Fu said. Every day at noon, the leaders from each hospital meet over Zoom to discuss capacity limits. Fu said some hospitals have said they are full, and others will step up to take patients.

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