Deal: For Now, Only Inventory Required
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – National Guard troops will not be taking ventilators from upstate hospitals for use in downstate hospitals hit hard by the coronavirus.
In an executive order signed Tuesday, April 7, Governor Cuomo backtracked on statements made Friday about issuing an executive order to requisition medical supplies, including 20 percent of unused ventilators, and having the National Guard help ensure compliance.
Instead, he issued an executive order that hospitals provide an inventory of such equipment and that the state “may shift any such items not currently needed, or needed in the short-term future by a healthcare facility to be transferred to a facility in urgent need.”
The deal was brokered over the weekend by the Healthcare Association of New York State, said Bassett Healthcare CEO Bill Streck, who was HANYS director of innovation before returning to the Basset helm.
“Before any ventilators are moved from Upstate to downstate a conver-sation would be had with hospitals
to make sure the number submitted today was still an appropriate number,” said Bassett Healthcare CEO
Bill Streck said.
“We want to make sure that those of us who are able to help can do so,” he said. “That has to be balanced against the assessment of local and regional needs.”
The initial announcement sent shockwaves through Upstate communities that feared the lifesaving equipment wouldn’t be available if local people became ill with the virus.
Upstate politicians mounted a surge of opposition to the plan, with Congressman Antonio Delgado, D-19, and Otsego County Assemblymen John Salka and Chris Tague issuing statements decrying the idea.
Over the weekend, there were negotiations over how to balance the intense need in New York City and surrounding counties, which account for more than half the 138,000 positive cases, against ensuring there would be enough equipment Upstate as the virus spreads.
Cuomo’s compromise “strikes the right balance, said HANYS President Bea Grause in a prepared statement. “Our hospitals are protecting their local community members while doing everything they can to save
lives throughout the state.”
Locally, that means that Bassett Healthcare Network and others serving area communities will have enough equipment to meet its needs, at least for now.
Otsego County Board of Representatives Chairman Dave Bliss said if state officials called for local ventilators, “Healthcare leaders will inform the board and we will collectively take necessary actions to ensure the levels of service required for the residents of our region.”
Institutions that sent equipment downstate would either have equipment returned or be reimbursed. In recent days the state has also gotten ventilators from Oregon, Washington State, California and even China.