COVID-19 Contact Numbers

Vaccine and Staff Testing Questions:

Infection Control Office
(internal ext: 1138 or 1438)

External Questions:

Madison County COVID-19 Hotline

Oneida County COVID-19 Hotline

NYS Department of Health COVID-19 Hotline

What’s New:

(updated 12.1.21)

Update from the CEO

Gene Morreale

Gene Morreale
President and CEO

November 30, 2021

Dear Fellow Employees,

There continues to be bad news regarding the COVID pandemic locally as well as worldwide. I am sure you have seen the news or heard of the new variant that appears to be problematic. It is frustrating I realize as we have done so much to try to gain control over this virus and it appears it is never enough.

Please note the following:

1. COVID Positives- It is with concern that I report that our hospital currently has 10 COVID positive inpatients. As many of you know, the COVID positive patient requires strict isolation and their length of stay in the hospital is much longer than the non-COVID type hospital admissions. The end result is that less medical/surgical beds will be available for future ED admissions which is a major concern at this time.

2. ED Bed Holds/Diversion- Due to the lack of staffing to open up more med/surg beds, we have continued to be stressed with ED admission holds for lengthy periods of time. We have had to go on ambulance diversion often as a result which is something we try not to do. My continued appreciation to our ED providers and staff for going above and beyond on a shift by shift basis to manage some highly acute patients including ICU level patients. To those providers and staff, I realize this is not what the ED is for nor is it ideal for long term patient care, but it is our current situation that we will need to work together to get through. We have been successful in hiring nurses as well as identifying several travelers to help with staffing holes. We will continue to do everything we can to not only recruit but to retain our highly talented staff throughout our organization.

3. Poaching- At yesterday’s Senior Leadership meeting we discussed what seems to be happening very frequently in the healthcare recruitment arena. Basically, other hospitals or medical practices are reaching out to staff that many times work in hospitals to offer them slightly more money and perhaps better hours. I think we are all guilty of that as there is a shortage of staff to meet today’s healthcare needs especially in hospital and long term care settings. With the shortage comes the poaching approach where everyone is trying to find staff and fill their vacancies. This approach may work for the short term but is not sustainable long term in this healthcare environment. We shall see how this continues to evolve.

4. Work Place Violence- As many of you are aware, I voiced concern through a community letter regarding the way staff are being treated by some of our patients or visitors. My point that I will continue to stand by is that we are doing the best we can under a very difficult scenario and that our community members need to be more civil in dealing with our staff. Verbal as well as aggressive physical attacks are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. As it turns out, OSHA, a government agency came in unannounced and is now auditing us as a result of my communication. Although I am not concerned about the audit itself, the demands for information are significant at a time when we can ill afford the staff to collate and provide this information requested by OSHA. Incidents regarding violence are commonplace in all hospitals throughout the region. I will leave it at that and we will provide the requested information to that entity and hope for the best outcome.

5. Elective Procedures- The new order from the Governor states that unless we have over 10% capacity for admissions, the Department of Health has the right to require us to stop performing elective procedures. We have already stopped doing the majority of elective procedures that require an inpatient bed after surgery. We have mainly focused on ambulatory surgery procedures that go home the same day. I am not sure yet how the DOH will invoke its authority in regards to elective procedures. As soon as I know, I will share that with our providers and staff.

These are unprecedented times in healthcare that combines a pandemic with a staffing and capacity shortage. Although we are all focused on providing the safest and best care to our patients and residents, the current environment does not readily support that. All hospitals in the Syracuse and Utica region going on ambulance diversion regularly is problematic. Our inability to transfer tertiary type care patients to hospitals with those services is not easy and sometimes does not occur leaving the patient in a bind. Our obligation which we will all live up to is to provide the highest quality care that we can to those who present to Oneida Health.

With that said, you all have my sincerest appreciation and respect for all that you have done through this pandemic to meet the needs and provide outstanding care. We cannot do it without you and understand that your efforts are truly appreciated.

With Sincerest Gratitude,

Gene F. Morreale

Employee COVID-19 Resources, Testing, and Vaccine Information

The Employee Health Department is here for employees who are feeling ill, concerned about COVID-19 exposure, or who need clearance to return to work. We also vaccinate employees. Below is some helpful information related to hours, exposure, self-monitoring, and tip sheets we recently distributed. Please call us if you have any COVID-19 health questions.

Other Helpful Employee Resources

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