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Ambulance providers working around Mercy Hospital diversion

"It causes longer transport times"
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Posted at 5:59 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 17:59:10-04

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Mercy Hospital in south Buffalo is suspending some of its services in preparation for a potential CWA strike that could happen this Friday.

Outside Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.

The region's two major ambulance providers, Twin City Ambulance and AMR Western New York, say they are working with their hospital and fire department partners to divert patients away from Mercy Hospital.

They say the biggest impact is finding emergency room beds.

“So, then it causes longer transport times and then fewer bed availability to the system that's already been taxed,” explained Scott Karaszewski, chief EMS officer, AMR.

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Scott Karaszewski, chief EMS officer, AMR, in Zoom interview.

Karaszewski says this area is fortunate to have Kaleida Health Hospitals and ECMC, as well as the other Catholic Health hospitals.

He stressed that even with a full diversion from Mercy Hospital, a life-threatening emergency will be dealt with immediately.

“Whether it be a cardiac arrest, eminent birth and that kind of thing — so you would go there, you would be stabilized and then transferred to a facility that has the capacity to handle that type of stuff,” Karaszewski noted.

Scott Karaszewski, chief EMS officer, AMR, in Zoom interview.

“How quickly can you make decisions of where to transport — where it’s best to transport for that patient?” Buckley asked.

“That's a collaborative decision with the patient and you know our team members in the field, depending on what the patient's condition and if the patient has the ability to request the facility they would like to go to,” replied Karaszewski.

“They can expect that we will as always make best efforts to respond immediately and provide exceptional care in a pre-hospital environment and provide transport to an appropriate hospital that can treat their illness or injury,” said Bryan Brauner, CEO, Twin City.

Braumer says so far diverting away from Mercy Hospital has been okay with no massive increase in wait times.

Bryan Brauner, CEO, Twin City, in Zoom interview.

“We’re able to still transport, especially the specialty care services for cardiac, for neurological emergencies, for trauma — those hospitals are still available,” Braumer responded. “That we will, as always, make best efforts to respond immediately and provide exception care.”

As for expectant mothers, Mercy Hospital has now suspended labor and delivery services.

But in a statement, Catholic Health says if a patient arrives in “active labor”, where delivery is “imminent”, they will deliver their baby at Mercy.

For non-emergencies they should not call 9-1-1.

Bryan Brauner, CEO, Twin City, in Zoom interview.

“Best bet, at this point, would be those expectant mothers certainly know around when they are due and now would be a good time for anybody who is expecting to deliver in the next short period of time, to contact their doctors — contact their OBGYN’s talk about options,” Braumer stated.

Kaleida Health is responding to how the Mercy Hospital suspensions are now affecting its system.

Kaleida is reporting:

  • More emergency room visits and longer wait times expected at Buffalo General Medical Center, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital & ECMC.
  • Oishei Children's Hospital is planning for additional deliveries
  • Gates Vascular Institute already seeing additional cardiac & stroke volume

ECMC said is also anticipating higher emergency room volumes and longer wait times.

ECMC said it has also made “preparations” for any patient influx during the Mercy diversions and suspicion of elective surgeries and other services.

The hospital is recommending “patients consider utilizing its emergency department telemedicine services. by visiting [], patients can book emergency medicine consults for a range of conditions, including: allergies, bronchitis, suspected COVID-19, cold and flu, cough, fever, sore throat, sinus infection, eye infection/irritation, rash, hives, upset stomach, heartburn, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and other minor ailments. for anyone experiencing critical medical issues like chest pain, stroke symptoms, abdominal pain, injuries, among others – do not delay care and come to ECMC’s emergency department.”

ECMC is offering the following pieces of advice to the public:

  • First, Consult with their primary care provider for official medical advice.

Both ambulance providers say the best thing the community can do is avoid needing to go to a hospital if it is not an emergency.

“We just need the help of the community out there to you know be wise with your decisions,” Karaszewski said.