As of Thursday, Cattaraugus County still does not have any confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
William Mills, senior vice president of Quality and Professional Affairs at Upper Allegheny Health System, made that statement during a Thursday afternoon media call.
However, just as Mills said during a Tuesday media call, he soon expects cases to appear in the county, where a total of 96 total people are in isolation.
“In my personal opinion, we probably have it here now,” Mill said. “In my professional opinion, I can’t guarantee that, because of the delays with testing and how long it takes to get things back from the state.”
Yesterday, the Cattaraugus County Department of Health said 17 tests are pending.
"So what we do in the interim, if we have people we are highly suspicious of, we treat them as if they are COVID-19 positive, and do the appropriate isolation and treatment procedures," Mills said. “We have none yet. We don’t have that confirmation. But, my opinion is that we most likely have people who do have it. We’ll know when we get the final tests back.”
Mills said some changes will take place at Olean General Hospital soon.
Starting Monday, the hospital plans to decrease the number of people in the hospital and in waiting rooms. But, he added, Olean General Hospital will remain a full-service hospital for now.
“If somebody comes for an outpatient surgery, they will be dropped off at the door and their family or friend will give their telephone number, and they’ll be called when things are done," Mills said. "We want to decrease the amount of people in waiting rooms just in case anyone has been exposed.”
Starting Monday, Mill said, employees at the hospital will be screened for fevers and other symptoms as they arrive for work.
“We’d like to think all health care workers will pay attention and monitor themselves for signs and symptoms, but some of them won’t, so we’re going to take the extra step and screen every employee for their temperature," Mills said. "If it exceeds 100.4 degrees, we will hand them a mask and send them home.”
Mills said the bigger issues facing hospitals and health departments in the area is the lack of supplies, especially COVID-19 tests.
“One of the bigger issues, still,” Mills said, “Is to test for COVID-19. Supplies are in short supply. The congressman [Tom Reed] asked us, ‘what do you need from us?’ ”
“We said, ‘supplies’ ” Mills said. “And he just kind of chuckled. There isn’t a lot out there. On both sides of the border.”
Regarding ventilators and other hospital equipment, Mills said it depends on what model is being followed. Right now, Cattaraugus County is not following any type of analytical model in terms of ventilators.
“We have no predictive analytics at the moment,” Mills said. “Most of those are based on the prevalence of the disease within your community, multiplied by percent of folks that we have seen get on a ventilator.”
Mills said, “If you do that math, it would suggest in the worst case scenario that we wouldn’t have enough ventilators. The one encouraging thing, after discussions with some of the folks from congress, is our military has a lot of ventilators available, but a national emergency would be rolled.
"We’re hoping and praying that all the things that we’re doing will mitigate the amount of people, and if you do the simple math, that we’ll have enough.”
For more information on the Coronavirus in the Greater Olean area, visit TAPinto Greater Olean's Coronavirus Updates page, which is updated continuously.
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