By Daniel Baldwin
Mohawk Valley Heath System (MVHS) has provided healthcare services to Mohawk Valley residents and exceptional medical care to its patients since 1830, according to the organization’s website mvhealthsystem.org, and even during the most commonly known global pandemic, a.k.a the coronavirus spread, the doctors, staff, and board members of MVHS have remained calm during these scary times and continued to do their jobs.
“The staff and medical staff are really ‘stepping up to the plate’ in this uncertain and potentially scary time,” MVHS Chief Physician Executive Kent Hall said. “They are here to take care of our community and that’s exactly what they intend to do. I heard today that, more than in ‘regular’ times,’ the staff feel and are behaving more like a family, coming together and working together.”
While there were more than 44,000 coronavirus cases in New York State last March, according to Cbsnews.com, the number of cases in the Mohawk Valley was low in March, as Oneida County had less than 30 cases and Herkimer County had less than 10, according to WKTV. But despite the low numbers, the MVHS staff is still preparing for the worst.
“This community has responded very well and is doing what we’ve asked of them,” MVHS President Darlene Stromstad said during an MVHS press briefing on March 23rd. “They’re staying home, but based on the experience of other parts of the state, we are preparing for a large surge in patient volumes. We ask that everybody remained hypersensitive to stopping the spread of this virus.”
In part of the preparation, Stromstad said that MVHS hired more physicians and nurses.
“We are developing a surge plan as required by the Department of Health and the State of New York,” Stromstad said. “This plan requires that we have an opportunity to surge up 50 percent greater than what is are normal census. Toward that goal we are looking for retired doctors and nurses who would be willing to help.”
MVHS also took precautionary measures to conserve their medical supplies and protect the patients in their hospitals. The organization already closed their drive thru testing sites, eliminated non-essential surgeries, restricted appointments, and limited visitors.
“We are eliminating non-essential surgeries and testing as mandated by the state,” Stromstad said. “We will be limiting are physician practice locations and the number of laboratories we have open. We’re very focused on conserving our medical supplies and resources. We do not plan on doing anymore drive thru testing. This decision was made in conjunction with the (Oneida) County Health Department and Rome Memorial Hospital. It is imperative that we retain the supplies for those people that are most at risk.”
MVHS is evening trying to protect their doctors and staff from getting the virus themselves.
“We continue to be very focused on the safety of our staff in the front lines,” Stromstad said, “because we all need them to stay well.”
With all the organization’s cost-cutting actions and safety precautions, MVHS seems ready to face the coronavirus outbreak and do whatever they can to protect and assist their patients, but despite the preparation, the health organization is willing to get all the help that they can get from its local residents and businesses. In an effort to repay MVHS for their hard work, residents and businesses, throughout the Mohawk Valley, purchased or made supplies and sent them to the organization’s hospitals.
“We have received numerous calls from businesses who have supplies they think we might be able to use,” Stronstad said. “From people who have contacts of manufacturing companies or have other ideas and ways for us to find adequate supplies. That includes construction companies, from some of the big box stores, and from other general members of the community, some who are out finding a n95 mask for sale or sewing masks at home to donate to our organization, we are so grateful for that support and help from the members of our community.”