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Mercy Hospital of Buffalo's ambulance diversion has an impact beyond the city

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Posted at 11:14 PM, Sep 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-29 23:14:29-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Mercy Hospital of Buffalo’s decision to divert ambulances has an impact beyond the city.

“We foresaw that a diversion could be possible so given that it came a little earlier wasn’t a huge shock,” Director of Fire and Emergency Management in Wyoming County Brian Meyers said.

The ambulance divergence is one of many services Mercy has temporally suspended ahead of a potential strike on October 1. This leaves many emergency managers across Western New York concerned.

“We don’t know how long this diversion will be, on top of that what other impacts will it have at other facilities,” Meyers said.

Even with the divergence being expected, emergency responders in Warsaw depend on Buffalo city hospitals, specifically Mercy, for certain cases, such as patients who have strokes or cardiac issues.

“It just all-around impacts everyone, it starts with the health system and funnels down to EMS,” Meyers said.

Once someone is in transport to Buffalo, they will have to go to ECMC or Buffalo General if Mercy Hospital cannot accept them. That could result in a drive that is 15 to 20 minutes longer.

“There’s a potential for impacts of the patient care with that added transport time,” Meyers said.

Meyers says they transport about ten patients to Mercy Hospital each month.

Registered nurse at Mercy, Jackie Ettipio, said this in a statement:

“The disruptions to care that Catholic Health is instituting in the event we go on strike fall squarely on the hospital system. The truth is, the quality of care that our healthcare workers are able to provide our patients has been disintegrating for too long because we are woefully and dangerously understaffed. Short staffing was an issue long before the pandemic, but now we are at a crisis point where we fear for our patients’ well-being because there simply isn’t enough staff at Mercy Hospital to ensure a safe environment. No Catholic Health employee wants to leave our patients’ bedsides, and while we know a strike will cause a major disruption, we feel we must stand up for the community and the level of care and safety they deserve. Because we know there is no replacement for the care our members provide, in order to help ensure our patients’ safety in the event of a strike, we have proactively established a Patient Protection Committee [] made up of CWA members -- including a Labor & Delivery RN -- who are trained, experienced healthcare professionals that are ready to go into the hospital at any time in the event of a patient emergency. We hope Catholic Health will do their part to also ensure the safety of the community, by agreeing to fair and commonsense contract that will help alleviate our desperate staffing issues."

The strike would last at least seven days, beginning October 1, if an agreement between Catholic Health and union workers is not reached.