Earlier this week, Heidi Bond, Otsego County public health director, said, “I think it will open up pretty quickly with Johnson & Johnson,” a reference to the new one-shot vaccine approved over the weekend.
It’s even encouraging to read the daily reports in the doom-and-gloom national newspapers.
Monday, March 1, the Washington Post told us the seven-day average of “cases reported” dropped from 248,128 to 68,040.
As of that day, WAPO said 50 million Americans had been vaccinated, about the same number of us over 65.
Now, that’s progress.
After the state website kept complaining the whole State of New York had only been receiving 400,000 vaccines a week for its 16 million eligible citizens, Monday, March 1, it posted:
“New York is expected to receive approximately 164,800 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine this week, pending final FDA authorization.”
That, plus 400,000 a week we’re already getting: It would still take 80 weeks to serve New York’s eligible citizens, but it’s accelerating.
The good news is if New York State gets the vaccine, New York State can administer it.
By ELIZABETH COOPER • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – No new cases in a week in Otsego County.
No hospitalizations at Bassett facilities either.
At a press conference Tuesday, May 12, in Bassett Hall, Healthcare Network leaders said the region has entered a new phase in the wake of its battle with the coronavirus. The network is already starting to ramp its number of surgeries back up and is looking forward to achieving a sort of new normalcy over the next eight to 10 weeks.
“We have all been through collectively a dramatic change,” Network President/CEO Bill Streck said. “One that was really unimaginable, in truth.”
Governor Cuomo deciding Otsego County and its Mohawk Valley Region can begin Phase 1 of the staged reopening process Friday, May 15, is largely because of the low number of local cases.
Otsego County’s last positive case was found April 27, about two weeks ago, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond said. There have been a total of 62 positive cases and four deaths since mid-March, when the emergency began. Four people have died.
Bond praised the community for its careful adherence to the protocols.
“I just think the public has been doing a great job doing the social distancing and everything that’s needed to be done,” she said. “We have to keep doing what we need to do to keep transmission numbers low.”
The COVID crisis has taken a tough financial toll on Bassett, Streck said. In April, there was a 40- to 50-percent decline in the number of patient visits, as patients opted to stay home out of concern they might contract the virus at the hospital. Additionally, all non-emergency surgeries had been put on hold.
Because business was brisk in the first part of the year, before the COVID crisis began, the hospital is only down a total of 15 percent in patient visits, but it won’t be clear how that has affected the hospital financially for another few months, Streck said.
“That’s still tens of millions of dollars,” Streck said. Federal grants are helping, but they don’t fill the gap, he said.
The network has already begun surgeries for issues that could be delayed for a period, such as non-aggressive cancer surgeries or ones to address chronic pain. Bassett has also been authorized to perform outpatient elective surgeries.
There has been an uptick in emergency room visits, which doctors said could mean that patients had delayed coming to the hospital, but now staff is anticipating that more people will start coming to the hospital for regular care.
“People should not hesitate to seek the care they need,” said Dr. Steve Heneghan, chief clinical officer.
New safety precautions are being implemented at the hospital to protect patients and staff alike.
All patients entering Bassett facilities will have their temperatures taken. If they are found to have a fever, they will be diverted and assessed to determine if they might have the virus.
“We will address them effectively and kindly to make sure that they are cared for in the right sequence and separated from the broader population if required,” Streck said.
Masks will be worn by all patients and staff during visits, and changes to waiting areas may be implemented to better allow for distancing. Additionally, patients undergoing surgeries will be tested for the virus to ensure that they and all those they come into contact with at the hospital are safe.
Bassett has begun doing antibody tests on patients who have a doctor’s order, and many people have expressed an interest in being tested, said Dr. Charles Hyman, senior attending physician in Infectious Diseases.
It isn’t yet known whether exposure to the virus brings immunity, however.
“Until we know more, social distancing, good hand hygiene and adherence to
other recommended precautions remain the best methods of preventing COVID-19,” Hyman said.
COOPERSTOWN – After a nationwide search, Dr. Kai Mebust, who had been filling the role on an interim basis, has been permanently appointed chief of the Bassett Hospital’s Department of Medicine. He succeeds Dr. Charles Hyman, who stepped down after 10 years.
“Kai’s experience and accomplishments as a clinician and as an administrator provide Bassett with the expertise required to provide overall physician leadership to the Bassett organization,” said Dr. Steven Heneghan, chief clinical officer.
COOPERSTOWN – Dr. Kai Mebust has been appointed Bassett Hospital’s associate chief of medicine as Dr. Charles L. Hyman prepares to move out his role as physician-in-chief at the end of the year.
“In this role, Kai will be initially oversee the in-patient services provided by the Department of Medicine,” Dr. Hyman said in an email circulated today. “He will also serve to help smooth the transition as I prepare to leave my role in January 2020.”
TALKING OPERA – 7 p.m. Director Tomer Zvulun and Conductor Nicole Paiement share perspectives on Pulitzer prize-winning opera “Silent Night.” Parish Hall, Christ Episcopal Church, 69 Fair St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-2255 or visit www.facebook.com/glimmerglassfestival/
BOOK SIGNING – 5 – 7 p.m. Get your copy of “Lewis Hine: Photographer and American Progressive,” signed by the author Tim Duerden and enjoy a presentation about the famous photograher. The Green Toad Bookstore, 198 Main St., Oneonta. Call 607-433-8898 or visit www.facebook.com/TheGreenToadBookstore/
COOPERSTOWN – Dr. Charles Hyman, Bassett Hospital chief of medicine, has been appointed by Governor Cuomo as a member of the state Rural Health Council for a term that extends through June of 2015.
The Rural Health Council makes recommendations to the state Office of Rural Health on such issues as the changing health care environment and its impact on rural health delivery; recruitment and retention of health care providers in rural communities; the financial viability of rural hospitals, and rural health networks as contributors to the health of the communities they serve.
Hyman, son of Anne Evans of Oneonta and stepson of Gerald Evans, has been physician-in-chief since 2008, succeeding Dr. Walter A. Franck.