Hospitals Told to Expand Capacity if Covid-19 Surge Continues

New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker  issued a letter Wednesday to hospital administrators on directives  to expand to hospital capacity during the Covid-19 epidemic.

On Dec. 7, hospitals were directed to expand capacity by 25 percent, and directed to expand by an additional 25 percent or cancel elective surgeries on Dec. 11. These directives are part of New York State’s Surge and Flex strategy for managing hospital capacity. 

The letter reminds hospitals that they must balance patient load, meaning overloaded hospitals should send patients to other sites for care; hospitals that aren’t part of a system should form alliances with other hospitals, and hospitals must be prepared to achieve 15% staffed bed capacity growth within 72 hours if a significant COVID surge occurs. If a hospital is, or would be, unable to achieve this “flex up” of beds if necessary, they must cancel elective procedures or expand bed capacity to ensure they always can have an additional 15% staffed bed availability within 72 hours. “Bed capacity” is defined as an available bed with available staff and equipment for purposes of patient care within 72 hours.

Another 95 New Yorkers died of Covid-19, according to new statistics released Wednesday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Total COVID hospitalizations are at 6,097. Of the 160,947 tests reported Tuesday, 9,998 were positive (6.21% of total). There also were 95 fatalities.

Cuomo said New York State had received 77,025 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and a total87,750  doses to date. An additional 80,000 Pfizer vaccine doses are expected within  the next days to start the vaccination program for residents and staff at nursing homes, Cuomo said.

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