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Ruffolo: We need our ventilators

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Sat, Apr 4th 2020 06:20 pm

A message from Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo:

In response to the governor’s executive order for the removal of excess ventilators from upstate hospitals to those downstate, Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center, the only independent hospital in Western New York, stands side-by-side with our partnering health systems in Erie County on holding onto the scarce and precious resources we have to save lives in Niagara County and surrounding areas.

My heart bleeds for my fellow CEO colleagues downstate and all their patients and health care workers. But, we will not put our patients nor our amazing health care workers in harm’s way. Our equipment and our personal protective gear must stay here.

Niagara County has the second-largest number of COVID-19 cases in Western New York, despite still having limited testing capability. At Memorial, we have seen a steady increase in COVID patients, as well as symptomatic COVID patients.

Every patient who comes into our emergency room with COVID symptoms is immediately cared for utilizing our COVID procedures, treatment plan and testing protocols. The turnaround for test results by our Kaleida Health lab provider has dramatically improved to 24-48 hours. Initially it was four to five days when the Erie County Public Health Laboratory performed testing due to this lab’s limited processing capability.

Memorial is hoping to soon participate in a clinical trial hosted by Roswell Park, for groundbreaking drug therapies that may be lifesaving for some critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Niagara Falls Memorial is caring for and will be caring for more and more COVID and COVID-suspected patients, some of whom will need immediate intubation and ventilation. We already have COVID patients and suspected COVID patients on ventilators now. We have already had to intubate and vent patients emergent upon arrival in our ER1 emergency department.

I’m proud to say we have saved lives by having the proper life-saving equipment on hand and by having a heroic team of doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and other caregivers serving the Niagara community.

Over the next several weeks, we expect the number of COVID patients to rise, some of whom will require ventilators. Keep in mind ventilators are needed for non-COVID, critically ill patients, as well.

God bless all our health care heroes, from our doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists to our nurse’s aides, housekeepers, dietary attendants and maintenance personnel for their dedication, passion and commitment for all of our patients and the community.

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