New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during his Sunday coronavirus briefing, said he wants upstate and downstate New York hospital systems to work together to fight COVID-19. 

"No hospital is an island; no hospital in this situation can exist unto itself," Cuomo said.

However, local hospital officials do not expect that patients will be coming to Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center from outside the region.

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“We are not going to speculate relative to what may happen statewide with patients and where they will be cared for,” Dennis McCarthy, director of marketing, Twin Tier at Kaleida Health, wrote in an email to TAPinto Greater Olean after Cuomo's Sunday briefing. Kaleida Health is affiliated with the Upper Allegheny Health Systems, and Olean General and Bradford Regional are under the UAHS umbrella.

“Olean General Hospital and Bradford Regional Medical Center are preparing for the surge as you saw in our press statement to serve our communities," McCarthy wrote. "We have received no information or requests from anyone relative to accepting patients from anywhere outside the region. We are focusing on preparation, not speculation.”

Cuomo, during Sunday's briefing, stressed the need for all hospitals in the state to work together.

“If New York City hospitals get overwhelmed, we’ll ask upstate systems to be a relief valve for the downstate health systems, which has never happened before to any scale,” he said. “And also vice-versa. There will be a time where upstate hospitals will be struggling. When the upstate hospitals struggle, then we’ll want the downstate hospitals to take over and relieve those hospitals. That’s the advantage of the rolling curve they're projecting. High tide comes first in New York City, then the tide is on the way down and then it’s high tide in upstate New York."

The governor added, “This is going to be all hands on deck, everybody helping everyone out. One hospital gets overwhelmed, the other hospitals have to flex to help that hospital.”.

On Saturday, Olean General and Bradford Regional released a statement noting that there are no plans or indications that they will receive patients from downstate health systems. 

The Saturday statement came after a Thursday media call during which Dr. William Mills, senior vice president of Quality and Professional Affairs at UAHS, said Olean General Hospital is expecting and prepared to treat COVID-19 patients from outside areas, but didn’t know what that plan would entail. 

“The governor had a phone call with hospital CEOs two days ago,” Mills said during Thursday's conference call, “and that question was asked of him from other rural hospitals, and he said ‘absolutely.’ ”

Mills said, “Our plan will be to accept them if we need to. We take care of people. We want to have capacity for our hometown folks too, so we’re going to work it the best we can. So, yeah we’re expecting to receive people, we don’t know, and no one really knows how that is going to work yet.”

Jeff Zewe, president and CEO of Olean General Hospital and Upper Allegheny Health System, said during Thursday's call, “I think the key is for us to be prepared. I hope we don’t receive one patient. We need to be prepared for when it happens.”

TAPinto Greater Olean recorded Thursday's 24-minute call and confirmed the accuracy of the quotes from Mills and Zewe  on Sunday.

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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