January 20, 2022

Accommodating COVID

Guthrie to delay non-essential procedures to make room

Todd R. McAdam

Traffic passes Guthrie Cortland Medical Center Tuesday in Cortland. The hospital, under state guidance, will postpone non-essential procedures for at least two weeks to make room to treat COVID patients, the hospital announced Tuesday.

Guthrie Cortland Medical Center will postpone non-essential procedures to free capacity to cope with COVID-19 cases, the hospital announced Tuesday.

Based on a seven-day average of hospital capacity that places Guthrie Cortland below 10% availability of open, staffed beds, it is among New York hospitals that meet the criteria for limitation of certain procedures, the state Department of Health informed the hospital and its Sayre, Pa.-based parent Guthrie health group.

The postponement will last from Thursday until Dec. 22, when the state will review the hospital’s capacity to see if the order can be lifted.

Patients who will have their procedure postponed will be contacted by phone immediately.

“Despite the state mandate, we are confident we have the beds available to treat patients and continue to remind the community not to delay needed care,” the hospital announced in a release. “Our emergency room remains open and ready to care for patients.”

The hospital had to delay non-emergency procedures for three weeks last March and April to create similar capacity.

This time, the decision will be based on a patient-by-patient basis, rather than simply delaying certain procedures, said Dr. Paula Brooks, chief medical officer for the 700-provider healthcare system that has hospitals and services in 47 communities in New York and Pennsylvania.

“It’s not just the procedure, but the patient we’re concerned about,” Brooks said during a conference call. Any procedure that would cause harm to the patient — treatment or diagnostic — significant pain or other risk would continue.

Routine procedures that could be delayed — colonoscopies, for example — would be, Brooks said.

The hospital was at 92% of its COVID capacity last week, Brooks said, but added that the hospital’s COVID capacity is flexible. It has two negative-pressure areas, which blow air outside the building rather than draw it in, making it safer to treat airborne ailments such as COVID. Combined with technology that essentially creates a tent in a hospital room and the hospital can treat as many as 20 or 24 COVID patients.

What’s more likely is to transfer patients to other facilities, and Guthrie has four other hospitals. “It’s certainly becoming more difficult to find places to put patients,” Brooks said.

Guthrie revises visitation rules

In the wake of recent increases in COVID-19 cases, Guthrie revised on Tuesday its rules for visitors.

The new guidelines take effect today:

• All visitors must wear a mask. Visitors to a COVID unit must wear a procedural mask, gloves and gown. Visitors will be screened for temperature and COVID symptoms.

• Inpatients may have visitors from 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. Two visitors are allowed, and it’s strongly encouraged that these visitors be the same two people throughout the patient’s day. Visitors should leave the facility when not visiting a patient.

• An obstetrics patient may be accompanied by two persons, a visitor and a doula or two visitors if the patient does not have a doula.

• A pediatric patient may have two visitors.

• Surgical/procedural outpatients may have one visitor during intake and discharge.

• Emergency department patients may have one visitor.

• Other situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Do not visit if your temperature exceeds 100 degrees, if you have COVID symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID in the past 14 days. No visitors under the age of 12.