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St. Mary’s giving care to four downstate patients, some who have tested positive for COVID-19

AMSTERDAM — St. Mary’s Healthcare on Thursday received four patients transferred from downstate hospitals. An unspecified number of those patients are known to have the coronavirus.

St. Mary’s issued a statement regarding the patient transfers that were made at the request of the state Department of Health to relieve overburdened downstate hospitals amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“St. Mary’s with every other hospital in New York state, stands ready to accept this challenge and to assist facilities who are currently overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of patients undergoing treatment. These transfers will not impede our ability to care for the needs of our community. The New York City hospitals are overburdened and we have an obligation along with hospitals throughout New York state to assist in this time of crisis,” the statement reads.

“Our mission statement calls on us to serve all persons with special attention to those who are poor and vulnerable. And, today it’s hard to imagine any group of patients more vulnerable than those afflicted with COVID-19,” the statement continues.

Rick Hyde, director of marketing and communications at St. Mary’s, said the hospital received a total of four transfer patients from downstate as part of a regional effort coordinated by Albany Medical Center. Hyde was unfamiliar with the conditions of the individual patients, but said some of the transfer patients were confirmed coronavirus cases.

“The transfer went very smooth with the utmost precaution obviously following all CDC and New York state Department of Health guidelines,” Hyde said Friday. “Some are COVID-19 positive and they were placed in the appropriate units.”

As of Friday, Hyde said counting both local individuals and downstate transfers St. Mary’s was caring for a total of four patients who tested positive for the coronavirus. He went on to remind local residents that the coronavirus is already present in the community and that individuals who are ill need medical care regardless of where they are from.

“It is here, we have not seen anywhere near the growth some places like New York City have seen and that’s why we are able to care for these four patients right now. We have the staff, we have the equipment and it’s our calling to help the broader community,” said Hyde. “We’ve been planning for weeks, if not over a month, for caring for COVID-19 positive patients.”

Hyde assured local residents that St. Mary’s is following all local, state and federal guidelines to protect patients, staff and the surrounding community amid the coronavirus outbreak. He pointed to state mandated social distancing precautions for all residents as possibly contributing to help keep the number of positive cases in Montgomery County low to date.

Montgomery County Public Health Director Sara Boerenko during a press conference on Friday reported there were 12 confirmed positive cases of the coronavirus among county residents. Of those individuals, three are currently hospitalized, five are being monitored while quarantined in their homes and four have fully recovered.

The true number of cases in the county is unknown due to the unavailability of tests, as Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort noted during the press briefing that the county initially received only 50 tests from the state.

“We’ve been working for weeks now to try to get more tests, obviously we acknowledge and understand testing is absolutely critical and we need to be doing more,” said Ossenfort.

Ossenfort reported Friday that the county has independently purchased 150 coronavirus test kits to improve efforts to track the spread of the coronavirus in the county.

“We’re trying to supplement those resources with resources of our own because we know that testing is the best resource we have to fight this and once we know someone is positive, we can take the proper steps,” said Ossenfort.

The increased availability of tests will allow the Montgomery County Public Health Department to facilitate testing for Montgomery County residents who meet certain criteria based on symptoms or contact with individuals known to have the virus.

Even as the county looks to step up efforts to locate cases, Boerenko noted to members of the public seeking precise information on the whereabouts of those confirmed to have the virus that at least one resident in every municipality in the county has been placed under mandatory 14 day home quarantine after coming into contact with individuals known to have the coronavirus. As of Friday 35 individuals were under mandatory quarantine.

“It doesn’t matter the exact street address that they live on, it just matters that you know that we have at least one person in every municipality from Amsterdam straight through to St. Johnsville,” said Boerenko.

Boerenko went on to remind residents concerned about the transfer of downstate patients to St. Mary’s that these individuals need medical care regardless of their condition.

“Sick people belong in the hospital, people who have had open heart surgery, need liver transplants, are on end stage dialysis, people who are having babies, they all require medical care, so it’s not just COVID-19 patients that are being shipped from New York City to different places in the state, we are looking at non-COVID positive patients,” said Boerenko.

“People have to keep in mind, New York City and the tri-state area is the epicenter of this outbreak for the entire world and we are three hours away, it is going to have an impact on us,” added Ossenfort. “Obviously we are always going to fight for our residents and make sure that they get the care that they need, that they’re protected and that we do everything we can. We are all trying to make the best of what is a very difficult situation.”

If you live in Montgomery County and think you might be experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone that has been confirmed to have COVID-19, contact the Montgomery County Public Health Department at (518) 853-3531 to discuss your symptoms and to review your health status.

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