Coronavirus Stressing Hudson Valley Hospitals: Report

HUDSON VALLEY, NY — A new tool created by NPR and the University of Minnesota shows just how stressed the region's and the nation's hospitals are as the number of COVID-19 patients continues to skyrocket.

Hospitals are front and center in New York's plan for dealing with the coronavirus's second wave.

"It is beyond critical that we ensure hospitals, and hospital systems as a whole, have developed additional capacity and are prepared to work cooperatively with each other to prevent any one facility from becoming overwhelmed," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday in his daily status report. New York saw 765 new COVID-19 patients admitted to the state's hospitals Wednesday, for a daily total of 5,164. Across the state, 92 people died of COVID-19.

State officials said they would reenact a regional version of the spring's NY PAUSE shutdown should the seven-day hospitalization growth rate indicate that hospitals in any given region are on track to hit critical capacity — or 90 percent — within three weeks.

By that time those hospitals will be already overwhelmed, according to researchers at the University of Washington. They told NPR that the single biggest predictor of stress on a hospital was the percentage of beds filled with COVID-19 patients. A hospital with more than 10 percent of its beds devoted to the coronavirus is under strain. A hospital with enough COVID-19 patients to fill more than 20 percent of its beds is under "extreme stress."

How are the Hudson Valley's hospitals faring under this new metric? Find out with a new tool created by NPR that allows you to look up the number of COVID-19 patients in your county and its hospitals.

To create the tool, NPR used new federal data released Monday for the first time by the Department of Health and Human Services, on individual hospitals' capacity and bed use, and an analysis from the University of Minnesota's COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project.

In the Hudson region, Orange County is extremely stressed, according to the new metric. That's with data from just two of the four hospitals in the county. St. Luke's Hospital in Cornwall has 33 percent of its beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to the data.

Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties are under strain, with 14 percent of their beds being occupied by COVID-19 patients, according to the report. Ulster County is on the threshold, with 10 percent.

Westchester County is at 14 percent overall, with NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital Center at the top of the list.

Putnam County's single hospital is at 14 percent.

In Rockland County, Montefiore Nyack Hospital has the most strain.

In Dutchess County, Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie is at 22 percent.

In Ulster County, the only information available through the federal database is for the Healthalliance Hospital on Broadway in Kingston.

New York state is again asking retired doctors and nurses to return to service to help bolster hospital staff. Cuomo said he believes about 20,000 retirees will volunteer.

Overall, the Hudson region's hospitals are 75 percent occupied, according to New York Health Department data. The state tracks regional hospital bed capacity as a percent of a region's population. As of Wednesday:

The regional hospital bed capacity and occupancy numbers, including the number of hospitalizations as a percent of the region's population (New York Governor's Office)
The regional hospital bed capacity and occupancy numbers, including the number of hospitalizations as a percent of the region's population (New York Governor's Office)

This article originally appeared on the Southeast-Brewster Patch