Hospitals adjust to Omicron surge, staffing challenges

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — While the variant has changed, the strain on hospitals has not.

“Things are tight here as they are across the entire region,” said Dr. Philip Falcone, the Chief Medical Officer at St. Joseph’s Health. “We are seeing an uptick in the number of cases. I think that stands to reason with this Omicron variant being much more transmissible.”

Falcone said patients who are vaccinated and are in the hospital tend to get discharged faster than those who are not. He also said unvaccinated patients are the ones who often get admitted to the hospital. It’s not just COVID they’re treating.

“People come in for everything that you can imagine, heart attacks, gallbladder disease. Everything we still have to deal with as a hospital and as physicians,” said Dr. Falcone.

He did not have capacity numbers but says St. Joseph’s Health is doing what it can to address staffing challenges.

“We do manage by virtue of moving our staff around to different locations,” Falcone added, “We are consolidating units. We are doing things like reducing elective surgeries. We’re doing that right along, so everything we can do to keep our staff healthy and available.”

Dr. Falcone said for some patients, omicron is milder, that isn’t the case for everyone. He hopes after this surge, things will improve.

“We’re starting to see some information that leads us to believe that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, it’s not an oncoming train, and that if we can get past it, we can probably reach a point where we are in a much better position than we are right now,” said Falcone.

He said one way to get there is vaccinations and booster shots.

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