OSWEGO, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Mayor Billy Barlow issued a state of emergency in the City of Oswego on Tuesday. Mayor Barlow made the declaration because the city’s only hospital emergency room is on ambulance diversion.

Oswego Health is joining other Central New York hospitals temporarily going on diversion because of extreme staffing shortages impacting the hospital’s ability to treat non COVID-19 issues.

“Because we have to take patients to other area facilities like Watertown or Auburn, an hour or so away in either direction, the ambulance and the staff on that ambulance will be occupied and out of service for an extended period of time,” says Mayor Barlow.

The mayor says they’re looking at getting another ambulance service to Oswego now and beefing up staffing levels, so they have consistent coverage in the city.

“When a hospital goes on a diversion because they truly need some sort of relief or a break from patients coming through the door, that does not stop a patient in this community from needing emergency services.” says Zach Menter, president and CEO of Menter Ambulance.

Menter says the diversion has a major impact on his business and the community.

Menter added, “It doesn’t mean that someone in the city of Fulton or in the city of Oswego is not going to have a heart attack because there’s no rooms at any of the hospitals. Those emergencies still happen and that’s where we are right now.”

Mayor Barlow says it’s about providing reliable EMS coverage in Oswego right now, which they are working on. He is hoping people wake up and start taking the pandemic as seriously as they were last year, adding that we’re starting to see somewhat of a worse case scenario start to play out here locally.