By CHRYSTAL SAVAGE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
In a daily press conference Monday, Jan. 4, Governor Cuomo called out Fox Hospital: If the Oneonta facility doesn’t use its anti-COVID vaccine allocation more quickly, it won’t get any more.
The governor said Fox had only used 18 percent of the doses it has.
Bassett Healthcare Network’s spokesman, Karen Huxtable-Hooker, said that figure is actually 30 percent as of Tuesday the 5th, both at Fox and its Tri-Town Campus in Sidney.
In all, she said, more than 2,000 Bassett Network staffers had been vaccinated, with 52 percent of the Moderna virus supply used up. The network employs 5,200 people over nine counties.
Bassett Hospital received its Moderna allotment Dec. 23, and immediately began vaccinating, Huxtable-Hooker said, and continues “to offer vaccination clinics for our health care staff, as do all of the hospitals in the Bassett network.”
The pace of vaccinations is just one challenge Bassett is facing, along with rising hospitalization – “double what it was in November,” she said. “The continued escalation of COVID-19 cases is challenging resources, but (at Bassett Hospital) we are managing.”
“Fortunately, with five hospitals in the network, we are able to make use of all available beds to meet patient needs to identify space within our hospitals that can appropriately be converted for patient care needs as demand dictates,” she said.
On a “case-by-case basis,” she continued, some elective surgeries that require hospital says have been postponed “ to have those beds available for seriously ill patients,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Despite such challenges, healthcare workers see the vaccine as a light at the end of the tunnel.
Some staffers have declined the vaccine, “but this has been the exception,” the spokesman said. “Most staff members are anxious to receive the vaccine as soon as they are eligible and can be scheduled.”
While there are two bills in the state Legislature seeking to mandate that healthcare workers and others be vaccinated, they have not yet been acted on. (See related story, Page A1).
Nor has the state Department of Health issued any such order, so “we cannot require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but we are strongly encouraging it,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, she said, masks, social distancing, hand-washing and the like is being encouraged to reduce transmission, she said.
At his Sunday, Jan. 3 press conference, Cuomo said 70-90 percent of New Yorkers need to be vaccinated to push back COVID-19, part of his dismay at the vaccination rate.
If hospitals do not use up their allotment they may face fines and/or possible disqualification from future vaccine distributions, according to Cuomo’s statements.
“Bassett Healthcare Network continues holding vaccination clinics with the goal of using the vaccine allocated to us,” Huxtable-Hooker said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, asymptomatic rapid testing will be available to the public as long as supplies last at Bassett’s Oneonta location on 125 Main St.
Reservations are required by calling 607-433-6510 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The network is working to schedule other locations and dates for asymptomatic testing.