March 27th, 2020
County Executive Adam Bello was joined today by University of Rochester Medical Center Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Michael Apostolakas, Strong Memorial Hospital Chief Operating Officer, Kathy Parrinello, and Rochester Regional Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Mayo, to announce a collaborative COVID-19 Surge Capacity Plan for Monroe County. The Plan details a phased approach to increasing capacity within the community’s two major health systems, as well as efforts to create a field hospital to meet additional needs if necessary
“Our community is blessed to have two incredible health systems that were willing to come to the table and work with us to develop a comprehensive plan,” Bello said. “This plan will give us the option of creating more than 2,000 additional beds should we experience a surge in patients beyond our current capacity.”
When COVID-19 reached Monroe County, County Executive Bello quickly convened the two hospital systems and began daily calls to review existing capacity and determine how to expand the number of available beds. Working with Bello, the systems have identified three phases of expansion, which will gradually increase Medicine/Surgery or ICU bed capacity by 103% at University of Rochester Medical Center and 109% at Rochester Regional Health in response to the spreading virus. If all phases are implemented, the Plan would increase the total number of ICU beds in both hospital systems from 1,964 to 4,044.
“It’s the job of our health systems to prepare for the worst as we hope for the best,” Dr. Apostolakas said. “Working with Monroe County and Rochester Regional Health, we are ready to treat large numbers of COVID-19 patients, even as we work hard to ensure the full extent of this plan will not be needed.”
“We realize there has been a lot of anticipation about our capacity to take care of those in need during a surge. Our plan addresses those concerns and will ensure we meet the community need,” Dr. Mayo said. “We would like to thank Monroe County and the University of Rochester Medical Center for being our partners in facing this crisis together. This community could not be in better hands.”
Phase One of the Plan has already been implemented within each system. It entailed freeing up beds by decreasing non-urgent surgeries and procedures. Phase Two involves converting hospital, overflow, or ambulatory clinics into patient care spaces. If additional beds are still needed, Phase Three would entail doubling up on non-COVID patient rooms and converting non-clinical hospital space to support patient care by adding beds, staff, and equipment.
An additional phase, Phase Four, would create a field hospital to care for non-urgent, recovering COVID patients, creating even more space in local hospitals beyond the 2,080 new beds identified in Phases One through Three. Monroe County is evaluating four potential sites for this operation and will provide further details at a later date. This facility would require state and federal support, and County Executive Bello has notified Governor Andrew Cuomo of this need.
“Monroe County is in unchartered territory, but I am working in sync with our hospitals to ensure sick or injured people in our community still get the care they need, when they need it,” Bello said. “Though we continue to impress upon everyone the dire need to stay home and practice social distancing to avoid a local surge in patients, we are prepared if more hospital beds are required.”