Particulars Few, As Streck,
LeCates Cite Confidentiality
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Bassett Healthcare Network has confirmed that its doctors have treated one person with the new coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference today at Bassett Hall, Bassett officials would not say which of the nearly 30 Bassett facilities the patient had been taken to or whether the patient was still inside the facility.
Bassett Hospital President Bill LeCates would say only that Bassett had treated a known case “in both inpatient and outpatient settings.”
It is Bassett policy not to speak about specific patients.
On Thursday, Governor Cuomo reported a confirmed cases in Herkimer and Delaware counties.
News outlets have reported the Herkimer County patient is a woman who returned from traveling in Greece more than two weeks ago. Her family is now under a two-week quarantine at home and she is being treated, according to published reports.
Bassett is sending samples to outside labs for testing, but so far no others have come up positive. LeCates and other Bassett leaders said there is not adequate testing capacity in the region for the need. The state is now contracting with independent labs to perform the tests.
“Last week, there was very limited availability of testing,” LeCates said. “Day by day the availability of testing has increased but not yet to the level to meet with full needs of the community.”
At the press conference, LeCates, along with Bassett President/CEO Bill Streck and Dr. Charles Hyman, infectious diseases specialist, stressed the importance of prevention in the face of the disease.
They declined to say what the network’s capacity for coronavirus patients could be, however, they did say they had done an inventory of “dormant spaces” in existing buildings that could be used for coronavirus patients if necessary.
Their plan was to craft a “triage system” – assessing the relative seriousness of each case – to route patients to locations where their needs could best be served. This would also help control surges in patients at specific facilities.
Decisions will be made based on need and capacity.
They will be informed by a knowledge of what kind of care is available,” LeCates said. “That will help distribute the need for care to match the resources that are available.”
Under the new protocol, individuals calling the 24-hour hotline would first be assessed remotely and, if possible, receive treatment at home. Those who develop more serious symptoms will be taken to facilities within the network.
The trajectory of the illness in the region is still unknown and much can still be done to prevent it from spreading too far.
“Slowing the speed of this infection is the most important step the community can take,” LeCates said. And that has to start right away.
“If we don’t do that well from now, it won’t be effective,” he said.
Hospital officials said they cannot guarantee that infection will not spread from the hospital into the community, but the hope is that the protocols in place will keep that possibility to a minimum.
Healthcare workers will wear protective gear, including masks, respirators or other face coverings and also gowns.
LeCates stressed that the plan is to carefully control the inflow of coronavirus patients into the hospitals.
“We want to assess people with (possible symptoms) outside the hospital,” LeCates said.