BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Spiking COVID cases over the past few weeks has pushed hospital capacity to the limits along with hospital staffing shortages.
In Buffalo, The Erie County Medical Center terminated a total of 106 employees who would not comply with the state's vaccine mandate.
It's only about three percent of ECMC’s workforce, however, it left the hospital short staffed.
But some relief arrived at the hospital this week.
Governor Kathy Hochul dispatched a team of nurses from Northwell Health, the state's largest health system, to ECMC.
“Any staff member helps, whether from ECMC or they're assigned from other areas to help decrease the stress here,” explained Emily Radford, RN, ECMC.
Faced with staffing shortages and a packed hospital, temporary staffers have arrived at ECMC.
“The demand here — you guys see a lot of patients here. This hospital is massive,” remarked Junelle Williams, flex staff nurse, Northwell.
Williams is one of eight Northwell nurses working for the next two weeks at ECMC.
“So, the goal is to provide high quality patient care, meaning responding to call bells, making sure that there's not a delay in care,” Williams noted.
ECMC is full and it is experiencing an unprecedented amount of patients in the emergency room.
Radford is a registered nurse in ECMC’s emergency department and welcomes the temporary staffers.
“How difficult is that for you, as a worker, when you see short staffs?” Buckley asked.
“If you are running call light to call light and you don't get to sit and chart, it's really difficult to try and make sure you meet everyone's needs,” Radford replied.
“Emily, can you describe what it's like in the ER right now?" Buckley questioned
“I could not have imagined working in an environment like this. It's unprecedented. We have sometimes nine to ten patients to one nurse. More commonly five or six patients to one nurse. You're doing the best you can to get to every patient to meet all their needs and make them feel comfortable while they're in the hospital,” Radford responded.
The temporary staffers are spread throughout the hospital.
“Anything they might need, not limited to COVID, certainly not, with all patients, we help with COVID, but non-COVID patients also,” Williams said.
ECMC spokesman Peter Cutler tells me the state contracts with Northwest and the only thing ECMC needs to do is provide boarding for the staffers.
Williams and Radford say both ECMC and temporary staffers are working well together — all to help their patients.
“They are so appreciative and so helpful,” Williams remarked.
@ECMCBuffalo gets staffing help from @NorthwellHealth @GovKathyHochul to deal with staffing shortages. "We need all the help we can get here at ECMC," said Emily Radford, ECMC ER nurse. @WKBW pic.twitter.com/ik9atwYWII— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) December 14, 2021
“We need all the help we can get here at ECMC in order to provide the best patient care,” Radford stated.
“No matter what happens, the patients come first,” declared Williams.