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Niagara County nursing homes need more COVID-19 tests

Posted at 4:00 AM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 05:21:27-04

LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WKBW) — Some Niagara County nursing homes are seeing just enough equipment to get by.

"Enough if you define this as the bare minimum to take care of the patients to protect them and ourselves," Dr. Charles Yates, the medical director of two nursing homes in Niagara County said.

Dr. Yates, who did not want to disclose the specific nursing homes he treats, says that the lack of equipment could become a massive problem very fast.

"If the numbers increase then we are stretching the limits of the amount of protective equipment we have," Dr. Yates said.

Ultimately, Dr. Yates says that a lack of testing is the biggest issue.

In a perfect scenario, Dr. Yates would test patients as many as three times to ensure they are cleared of the virus so they are not bringing COVID-19 to the rest of the population of the home.

If he is lucky, Dr. Yates can test a patient one time.

"The idea of retesting to see if they (patients) are negative is a luxury I don't have," Dr. Yates said. "In my facilities I'm flying blind about who I have to watch for symptoms."

We reached out to Niagara County to see how more tests could get to non-hospital related nursing homes.

According to the county, they are aware of the need for COVID-19 tests to nursing homes, but the state is the only entity that can get them to the homes.

These nursing homes are run under NYSDOH according to Niagara County, so they are limited in what they can do.