BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Friday marked day eight of the Mercy Hospital strike in Buffalo with neither side indicating tonight that they’re any closer to a deal.
But even before the strike, ambulances were being diverted away from mercy and now other hospitals are seeing spikes in emergency room visits.
“We were all full before the strike —this is just one more stressor on a strained system,” stated Dr. Michael Mineo, chief medical officer, Kaleida Health.
Since nearly 2,000 Mercy Hospital workers walked off the job one-week ago, Kaledia Health noted a 10-percent increase in the volume of patients in its emergency rooms.
Catholic Health CEO Mark Sullivan addressed the issue earlier this week when he demanded CWA Local 1133 end the strike.
“The emergency departments at other Catholic Health hospitals, at Kaleida Health and ECMC are overflowing because of this strike,” Sullivan remarked.
“Between the strike, the pandemic, the vaccine mandate — all of them are impacting our ability to flow patients through,” Dr. Mineo noted.
The strike marches on outside the hospital.
Mineo says it is contributing to an increase in Kaleida’s ER’s.
“We’re seeing people who need medical care and people will seek care wherever they can get it,” responded Mineo. “t’s impacting everywhere — Children's Hospital is having about six to seven additional deliveries everyday — which is directly related to this strike. Buffalo General Hospital — ER and ICU are full. DeGraff is the highest it has been since the emergency room opened and Suburban continues to be full."
The Erie County Health Department is keeping a close eye on the situation through emergency department census reports and ambulance traffic.
The health department issued tweet this week to remind the public to use best practices to access ER care and consider alternatives for non-emergency treatment.
- You should call your primary physician
- Visit an urgent care center
- Consider Telehealth — a virtual visit
WellNow tells me some of their locations have had higher than normal volume and say reduced access to care in the community may be a factor.
WellNow patients have the option and are encouraged to schedule a visit through the website if possible although walk-ins are still accepted. However, if wait times go beyond operation hours, walk-ins may be informed the center has reached its capacity and would have the option to use virtual care.
“We want people to call their primary physician and find out where the right spot is for care, but if it’s stroke symptoms — chest pain — please get to the emergency room,” Mineo declared.
Late Friday afternoon, the CWA issued a statement saying both the union and Mercy Hospital continue to exchange bargaining proposals addressing key issues in the dispute. Both sides remain apart on staffing ratios.
“We have heard loud and clear from our members that staffing is their number one issue, and we will continue to work towards finding permanent, structural solutions to this critical issue at the bargaining table. Our committee is working hard to reach a complete, comprehensive agreement on all issues. We will not settle until that is done," stated Debora Hayes, CWA area director.
An nurse assistant at Mercy Hospital told 7 Eyewitness News Friday evening that at times she has been forced to care for up to 40 patients by herself.
An RN also says ideally they would like to see a 1 to 4 ratio.
Both striking workers say while they are exhausted from walking the picket lines and miss their patients, they will picket for as long as it takes.