Lewis County General temporarily diverted patients Tuesday

WWNY Lewis County General temporarily diverted patients Tuesday

LOWVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - Ambulances were diverted from Lewis County Health for more than 5 hours Tuesday when a “perfect storm” left the hospital at 120 percent capacity - its highest in years.

In the three-and-a-half years Jerry Cayer has served as Lewis County Health System’s CEO, he has never seen the hospital at 120 percent capacity.

“I don’t believe so. This would be a first,” he said.

It led to a diversion of all ambulances from Lewis County Health System.

And while there are currently 10 COVID-positive patients being treated at the hospital, that’s not the only factor that went into Tuesday’s diversion.

The other factors include the winter season and an influx of patients at the hospital’s emergency department.

“This was one of those perfect storms. But, it’s a little storm in the scope of things,” said Cayer.

A little storm considering the number of COVID cases in Lewis County.

“We’ve had census points since Halloween, where we were right on the cusp. Then a couple of individuals were discharged, it created some capacity, and we didn’t have to divert,” said Cayer.

But in a small rural area like Lewis County, even the smallest of numbers have a big impact.

“If you think about it, we will discharge 10 individuals, and that’s happening as we speak. We will go from 120 percent of capacity, to about 74 percent of capacity with 10 people. So for us, small numbers have a profound impact,” said Cayer.

Throughout the 5-hour diversion, the hospital continued to see patients and accepted walk-ins in need of emergency care.

Cayer says only one patient was diverted to Carthage Area Hospital.

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