Glens Falls Hospital, amid COVID-19 surge, ‘past capacity’

GLENS FALLS —Three health providers in Warren County put out a dire statement Tuesday, begging residents to get vaccinated as doctors, nurses and other health personnel are being crushed by COVID-19 patients.

Glens Falls Hospital, Hudson Headwaters Health Network and Irongate Family Practice put out a joint press release, posted to Warren County’s Facebook page Tuesday, warning that medical providers are overwhelmed by the number of COVID-19 patients they are seeing, and the severity of their sicknesses. With the holidays approaching, infection rates are expected to surge even more.

“Let me be blunt,” said Howard Fritz, chief medical officer at Glens Falls Hospital. “If you are not vaccinated, get the vaccine immediately. If you are eligible for the booster, get it. Your life, your loved one’s lives, and those of your friends and neighbors depend on it.”

Fritz said the hospital has over 50 patients admitted with COVID-19, the majority of whom are unvaccinated, and that the spike is greater than last winter. And the total number of patients admitted at the hospital is higher than at any other point throughout the pandemic, according to the press release, making the hospital “past capacity.” Meanwhile, Hudson Headwaters Health Network said they are seeing an average of 80 new COVID-19 patients every day.

“The vast majority are unvaccinated and those who are unvaccinated are much sicker than the cases we see in fully vaccinated patients,” said William Borgos, Hudson Headwaters Health Network’s chief medical officer. “As a community, we need to do everything we can to cut off transmission of the virus. We urge everyone to get vaccinated, get a booster dose if you are already vaccinated, and to wear masks in any indoor public setting.”

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Nearly 75 percent of Warren County residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The concerned messages from medical providers come on the heels of Warren County asking the state to provide more resources to aid in combating a surge of infections.

The county saw its highest single-day COVID-19 caseload last week, breaking the pandemic record seen in mid-January. Also this past weekend, Warren joined 11 other counties statewide that had a seven-day averages of more than 10 percent of tests coming back positive.

Over 20 months into the pandemic, the small county says it’s fatigued and needs more support from the state — specifically, for the state to reopen its mass vaccination site in Queensbury.

“We’re a small, rural county, with a population of 64,000 and change — so yeah, we’re not going to have the resources of a bigger county, and that means a lot of this will fall to a smaller public health staff,” said Don Lehman, the county spokesperson. “Now we’re seeing the demand again and we’re hoping the state will decide to reopen the site for us.”

Lehman warned that urgent care centers and doctors’ offices have been overwhelmed by patients during the surge, especially since the Queensbury site shut down in July. Warren County officials are asking that the mass site not only provide vaccination and booster shots, but also testing, which they say has been a challenge to find accessible, affordable and efficient testing for residents.