Long Island hospitals seek to create extra capacity for potential surge in COVID-19 infections
Hospitals across Long Island are preparing for a potential surge of COVID-19 cases from the omicron variant.
New safety protocols are going into effect for New York as part of Gov. Kathy Hochul's executive order.
The governor is requiring hospitals to be proactive when it comes to preparing to boost capacity if needed.
Northwell Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Battinelli says they have plans all the time to be able to create new capacity.
He says they converted units when they previously had a lot of patients.
"We always have a little extra capacity because we have to," Battinelli says. "We have to plan for at least a little bit of a surge for whatever reason."
The order means that the Department of Health will be allowed to limit elective procedures in hospitals or health systems with limited capacity.
Health systems across Long Island tell News 12 that they are "adequately staffed", have "ample capacity" and can "designate surge spaces" if needed.
Hochul is also warning that nursing home visitation rules could change if a significant spike in cases is seen.
Nursing home visitation guidelines were loosened just two weeks ago to go back to what they were before the pandemic.
"This is as open as it has been," says Gurwin Jewish CEO Stuart Almer. "We are hopeful that there is no community uptick and that it remains safe here, but will adapt. That's what we've been doing for the last two years."