Cayuga Medical Center-which serves an area with over 100,000 people in Tompkins and surrounding counties- is working to combat predicted shortages before they occur.

Adrian Boteanu / Sun File Photo

Cayuga Medical Center-which serves an area with over 100,000 people in Tompkins and surrounding counties- is working to combat predicted shortages before they occur.

March 16, 2020

As Cases Soar Statewide, Cayuga Medical Center Prepares for Patient Spike

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Even though Tompkins County’s second case of COVID-19 was confirmed only on Monday afternoon, Cayuga Medical Center already predicts shortages of key medical supplies and other resources.

Cayuga Medical, the Ithaca area’s primary hospital, operates 204 in-patient beds and employs 257 affiliated physicians. Among that staff, there are only two registered pulmonologists, doctors that specialize in treating respiratory tracts — one of the area’s hardest hit in a coronavirus infection.

Though estimates of the virus’ ultimate effects vary significantly, a top disease-modeller for the Centers for Disease Control said that at least 30 percent of Americans may contract COVID-19, and among those that do, 0.5 percent could die.

If these figures hold true for Tompkins County, with a population of 102,793, nearly 31,000 cases and 154 fatalities could be anticipated throughout the course of the pandemic.

Although newly-implemented, drastic containment measures may blunt those projections — a slew of state governments have announced a series of lockdowns on bars, restaurants and other public places — severe estimates of COVID-19’s spread have sent hospitals, like Cayuga Medical, scrambling to prepare for a sudden influx of patients.

For instance, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Kathryn Boor sent an email to CALS faculty on the morning of March 16, alerting them that Cayuga Medical anticipated likely needing three different variants of swabs.

“There’s no shortage right now, they are trying to do some advance planning,” said Frank Cantone, director of the Office of Emergency Management.

According to Cantone, Cayuga Medical Center’s only request was for several kinds of swabs, which are necessary to test for the virus. At the time of publication, no facilities on campus had the requested resources, but the Office of Emergency Management was still collecting responses to the request from CALS faculty.

While this was the hospital’s only request made so far, Cantone is confident in Cornell’s ability to aid local medical facilities should the need arise.

“We are ready and able if other resources are requested, and that goes for either protective equipment or personnel to assist in operations,” Cantone said.