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Health & Wellness

Burstein on COVID crisis, hospital space and testing priorities

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Erie County is preparing to  rent property for makeshift quarantine centers and hospitals, as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's mandate to increase capacity by 100 percent.

"On behalfofhealthcare, wearelookingatatmultiplesites, " said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein MD, in a wide ranging interview with WBFO, where she also touched on the need to prioritize testing for health care workers and other essential personnel.

Burstein said hospitals are looking at ways to increase their critical care beds, while the county is addressing ways to add other treatment and quarntine sites that won't provide such intenseive care.

"The healthcaresystems,they'reallincreasingtheircapacitytotakecareofvery,veryillpatients.They'reincreasingtheirICUcapacityandthey'reincreasingtheirventilatorcapacity.Andthen on the ErieCountyside,we'relookingathopefullyacquiringsomepropertyandrentingoutsomespaceandconvertingitforaplacewherepeoplewhoare either a knowninfectionwith COVID-19, or aresuspectedorknownto have contact with COVID-19, and ....theydon'thaveanywhereelsetostayforisolationorquarantinecanstay," Burstein said.

"We'relookingatmanydifferentoptions.Itwouldbeaplacethathastohaveprivatebathrooms.ithastohaveacookingfacilitytofeedpeople.So,we'relookingatatmanydifferentoptions,' she said. 

"Wearelookingateverytypeofvenuepossibletotrytoacquiremorepersonalprotectiveequipment.Iknowthehospitalsarealltryingtogetadditionalpersonalprotectiveequipmentfromtheirsources.Wearealsogoingthroughvendorswearegoingtothestateswearegoingfindingnewvendorssowearealltryingvery,veryhard."

On other topics:

- The marketing and use of unproven remedies is on the rise: "My pharmacistmentionedtomethattheywereoutof (the antibiptic) Azithromycinbecause people are buyingitfortreatmentforcoronavirus. Azithromycin is investigatedrightnow,theresultsofthosetrialsarenotoutyet.Sowedon'tknowifithasanyeffect.Andwedon'tknowifthepotentialadverseeffectsareworsethanthebenefitsfromit.Soit'sjustnotagoodideatotakeanymedicationifithasnotbeenapprovedforwhatyou'retryingtouseit.

When can we mingle again?  "Whenwestarttoseethenumbersdecreaseandwestarttoseelessillnessinthecommunityandwestarttoseethehospitalbedsempty,thenIthinkwecanbackoffonourourrestrictions.We'rejusttakingitonestepatatimeandcontinuingtoblastthesemessagesaboutsocialdistancingorphysicaldistancing,handwashing,goodrespiratoryetiquette,andpeoplewhoaresickshouldstayinisolation... Imean,wehavetocontinuewiththosenonpharmaceuticalinterventionsbecauseweknowtheycanbeeffective.That'sallwehaverightnow.

Protecting Health Care workers:  Burstein says that the county is also working with vendors to secure more personal protection equipment for health care workers, and as the demand for testing increases-- they will prioritize health care workers and other essential personell to recieve tests.

"We'vebeenrunningupataround80to100testsresultsdaily.We'realsogettingcustomresultsdailyfromcommerciallaboratories.Nowwe'regettinglabtestsfromhospitallaboratoriesandagain,thattestingisnottheanswerbyitself.Rightnow.We'rereallyusingthetestingasacommunitytolookattotestpeoplewhoarecriticalpatients,weneedtoputtheminisolationandsaynegativepressureroomandusespecialpersonalprotectiveequipment.Wearetestingourhealthcareworkforcetomakesurethattheycancontinueworkingandtheydon'tknowexposeotherpeopletokovat19andwearegoingtobetestingouressentialpersonnelorfirstrespondersororpoliceorEMTspeopleWorkinginthegrocerystorestomakesurethatwecankeepthefoodontheshelf,wecankeepthelightson

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