Dr. Toby Cosgrove: COVID-19 is ‘game changer’ for healthcare delivery

Updated: Mar. 31, 2020 at 4:05 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, OHIO (WWNY) - One person watching the coronavirus sweep through New York is Dr. Toby Cosgrove, renowned cardiologist, executive advisor to the Cleveland Clinic, and Watertown native.

7 News anchor Jeff Cole had a chance to speak with Dr. Cosgrove Tuesday afternoon as he helps prepare the Cleveland Clinic for the worst.

The Cleveland Clinic, one of the top healthcare facilities in the world, is getting ready for an onslaught of patients, according to Dr. Cosgrove.

"It's worse than I had anticipated. I think we have not begun to see the worst of it in the U.S. and I think we are weeks away from the peak," he said.

He's watching New York City, knowing what's happening there will soon spread across the country and the Cleveland Clinic isn't immune to it.

At the hospital, where Dr. Cosgrove served as president and chief executive officer for 13 years, he says the facility is half full of patients, it's bringing on an additional 1,000 beds and it's rethinking the way the facility deploys its resources.

"This is a game changer about the delivery of healthcare and how people think about taking care of themselves," said Dr. Cosgrove.

The way people take care of themselves - part of that is social distancing. Dr. Cosgrove believes Governor Cuomo's directive of putting New York state on pause, essentially shuttering the economy, was the right move.

"Absolutely it had to happen and we were late to that realization and we're going to pay the price for it in some places. And I know it doesn't seem as real in northern New York - as it would in the New York City area - but it's important to follow those directives," he said.

Cuomo had to plea for masks, gowns and ventilators. Dr. Cosgrove doesn't think the U.S. wasn't ready for a pandemic - it's just that the scenario became much worse.

"I think the whole world was caught off guard. No one anticipated a virus of this magnitude," he said.

As we all sit and watch the response to COVID-19, Dr. Cosgrove has a message for his hometown od Watertown and all of the north country.

"I think you are fortunate that you are in northern New York, that you are physically distant from other people and that's part of the charm of your part of the world," he said.

Dr. Cosgrove believes it will be a year before there’s a vaccine for COVID-19.

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