What's behind Erie County's hospitalization rate uptick?

Nursing homes may skew numbers, officials say
Posted at 11:08 AM, May 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 17:24:44-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Coronavirus shutdown orders have still not been lifted for Western New York, as the region meets only four of seven categories identified by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for re-opening.

One of those shortfalls is that WNY still does not have a 14-day decline in net hospitalizations or a three-day average of fewer than 15 new hospitalizations per day.

Erie County officials say that may be the result of a change in statewide nursing home policy.

On March 25, The state Health Department set a controversial order mandating nursing homes accept coronavirus patients from hospitals, which has been blamed for contributing to the spread of the disease in adult care facilities.

The state has now reversed itself on that stance, but local leaders are blaming it for the slight uptick in recent days in hospitalizations.

"They're taking up a lot of hospital beds, especially, you know, new hospital beds," said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein.

Burstein made the comments Thursday before the county legislature's health and human services committee, where she pointed to the reversed state policy on nursing homes.

"That's going to increase the number of admissions," she said.

According to County Executive Mark Poloncarz, there was a slight increase (from 208 to 214) in hospitalizations on May 13 for the WNY region, and admissions exceeded discharges in Erie County by 5.