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Sisters Hospital St. Joseph campus emerges from COVID-only status

WBFO/Michael Mroziak

After serving as a COVID-only hospital since mid March, the Sister Hospital St. Joseph Campus in Cheektowaga resumed services over the weekend including its emergency department, acute care, and outpatient procedures, Catholic Health announced Monday.

Since shifting to treating COVID patients exclusively March 25, the St. Joseph Campus had as many as 125 patients occupying beds. As of Friday, according to executives, there were 14 COVID patients being treated. But within the past week, the hospital also marked the discharge of its 500th COVID patient.

"As we're going to resume services, we are also keeping our eye on COVID," said Catholic Health president and chief executive officer Mark Sullivan. "COVID has not gone away. We're not celebrating that it's gone away."

The emergency department resumed services on Sunday, it was announced. As part of the hospital's Phase One strategy, Catholic Health is also reopening its sleep care, metabolic center, endoscopy/GI unit, select outpatient surgeries and select outpatient ancillary services.

Marty Boryszak, interim president of Sisters Hospital and senior vice president of Acute Care Services for Catholic Health, said during the period of time when the St. Joseph Campus served as a COVID-only center, infections to staff were minimal and physicians generally felt comfortable about conditions inside the building.

In preparation of reopening other services, though, a third party was brought in to thoroughly spray and sanitize facilities.

"They did that over the last couple of weeks to make sure that every area where we were going to offer direct patient care, and even areas where we weren't going to offer direct patient care, we sprayed and sanitized to make sure that we had maximum infection control," Boryszak said.

And what if COVID numbers rise again in the Buffalo area? Sullivan says they'll have a measured method of adjusting their services again, if necessary. They didn't have a history from which to work back in March, he explained.

"It was 'were we going to have 100,000 patients in Buffalo, or 1000 patients?'" he said. "It's not going to be a pivot like it was, probably, in March because there it was an unknown. We have our sensitivity analysis we use through our Lean Six Sigma team to look at it, with control charts to look at what is a trend, and what is a blip."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.