Plan to move ventilators downstate goes from mandatory to voluntary

WWNY Plan to move ventilators downstate goes from mandatory to voluntary

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - A state grab of ventilators won't be happening. It has gone from mandatory to voluntary.

The Healthcare Association of New York State says in collaboration with Governor Cuomo, it has coordinated a voluntary ventilator redistribution plan with local hospitals.

That's a change from last week when Cuomo said he would sign an executive order allowing the state to use the National Guard to take 20 percent of ventilators from upstate hospitals and shift them downstate.

That order was never signed.

Under the new plan, hospitals are identifying how many ventilators they can offer up if needed.

"It is worth noting that as of 10 o'clock this morning there were already 300 ventilators identified in this manner," said Lewis County Health System CEO Gerald Cayer.

Lewis County General Hospital has set aside 3 of its 12 ventilators. Samaritan Medical Center is also offering up 3 and Carthage Area Hospital and Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center combined are offering 5.

Cayer says the ventilators will stay at the hospitals until there's a call that they're needed elsewhere.

"Probably the thing that's more comforting for community hospitals is that there aren't going to be 3 to 500 ventilators sitting in a warehouse somewhere in New York state but rather these smaller nucleus of inventories will be in individual hospitals scattered across the state," he said.

Cayer says there will be a call center that will notify hospitals if there's a need for equipment elsewhere and that the hospitals can also call if they need help.

He also says a transportation network to move the equipment will be set up. Hospitals will be notified exactly where their equipment ends up and get them back.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik has strongly criticized the governor's plan to take 20 percent of ventilators. She says the voluntary plan is the right move.

"I'm glad that the hospital association has stepped in to really temper and roll back how this executive order was laid out," said Stefanik (R. - 21st District).

We reached out to the governor’s office but did not hear back.

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