North country patients feel effects of staffing shortages at Syracuse hospitals

Syracuse hospitals are suffering from staffing shortages, and it’s having a trickle-down effect...
Syracuse hospitals are suffering from staffing shortages, and it’s having a trickle-down effect on north country patients.(CNY Central)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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SYRACUSE, New York (WWNY) - Syracuse hospitals are suffering from staffing shortages, and it’s having a trickle-down effect on north country patients.

“It affects us as patients come into our emergency department and they need a higher level of care,” said Leslie DiStefano, Director of Communications at Samaritan Medical Center. “Something that we cannot provide in specialty care. Syracuse hospitals are typically our go-to due to proximity.”

According to a Syracuse.com article, there are 600 open nursing jobs at Upstate University Hospital, the areas largest medical center. That means fewer beds for patients in the north country who’d usually be transferred there.

Richard Duvall, CEO of Carthage Area Hospital said it’s a tough situation.

“Our ERs become overwhelmed more quickly than normal because we’re housing patients that historically, we’d be able to transfer to a higher level of care or a tertiary care center,” he said.

With Syracuse full, ambulances have had to reroute patients to hospitals with open beds. Duvall said patients have ended up as far as Buffalo, Westchester, and even Vermont. It’s tough on families.

“It’s very common to transfer patients but the wider the radius that you have to look for those beds, the hardship on families especially for transportation purposes is often very difficult,” DiStefano said.

Staffing shortages are a problem nationwide, especially in healthcare. According to Duvall, COVID-19 is to blame.

“Things such as the vaccine mandate obviously increased stress during that time, which has driven people away from healthcare,” Duvall said.

According to DiStefano, the issue is here to stay.

“Not at this time. It doesn’t appear that there is going to be a near time even remedy to this,” she said.

Despite the lack of a long-term solution, DiStefano said medical professionals are doing everything they can to bring new people on board.