Allegany Hope: Jones Memorial In Crisis

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From Casey Jones, Editor of Allegany Hope, 9/16/21

BREAKING: Jones Memorial Hospital is considering temporary suspension of its intensive care unit, transferring its most critically ill patients to other facilities, in response to an escalation of COVID-19 cases and resignations of some hospital staff due to mandatory vaccination requirements by the state.

Hospital Chief Executive Officer James Helms, in a community appeal this afternoon, asked residents to “Support Jones Memorial Hospital. Get Vaccinated.”

He updated last week’s report by Allegany Hope about the surge in the number of COVID patients over the past two weeks, “the overwhelming majority of whom are unvaccinated,” and creating additional stress on the facility’s nursing staff.

Although some staff members have resigned rather than meet the vaccination requirement which goes into effect Monday, September 27, 100 percent of the employed medical staff already have received the inoculation, Helms said, projecting that some 85 percent of all staff, out of 470 which includes part-time and per diem personnel, will have met the deadline.

“We continue to encourage our staff to get vaccinated to meet the mandate and expect our vaccination percentage to improve, the hospital head said. “We are actively recruiting now to fill vacant positions, working with UR (University of Rochester) Medicine leadership to share resources across hospitals, and monitoring development at the state level that could help to reduce staff shortages when the mandate takes effect.”

He said the hospital also is making contingency plans to prepare for potential staff losses, with a goal of minimizing impact on patient care.

A change in ICU services would create a “step-down unit to care for all but the most critically ill patients, and transfer patients who need 24/7 care to another facility.”

Helms said that a surge in the number of COVID patients during the past two weeks has resulted in 36 percent of admissions being related to the virus.

“It is unprecedented to have over one-third of all inpatients affected by one diagnosis,” he said.

Sandra Watkins, RN, vice-president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at the hospital, said that “if our community can support us by getting vaccinated, we can keep them out of our hospital and ensure we have resources to support non-COVID patients.”

She noted that getting vaccinated “greatly reduces the risk of hospitalization if one does contract the virus,” thereby freeing up needed staff and beds to care for others in need of hospital services.

“So what can you do to support the Jones Memorial Hospital and the nursing staff?”, Helms said. “Get vaccinated.”

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