NY National Guard to be sent to A. Holly Patterson nursing home, others statewide
The state will send 10 medical staff from the state National Guard to A. Holly Patterson Extended Care in Uniondale next week to help with staffing shortages, officials said Saturday.
The plan is part of a larger deployment of 120 medical staff to several nursing homes and long-term-care facilities around the state that have suffered staffing shortages due to the pandemic, officials said.
"We have been working with nursing homes across the state to identify where these medical teams will have the most impact on regional health systems," said state Department of Health spokeswoman Erin Silk.
Meanwhile, state officials said Saturday that three more confirmed cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant have been discovered — all in New York City — bringing the state's total to eight.
The 10 National Guard medical personnel should arrive at the Uniondale facility early next week and the home will decide what duties they perform, said state National Guard spokesman Richard Goldenberg. They will remain as long as they are needed, he said.
"Across the state, various nursing homes are experiencing a shortness of staff. We'll be providing additional manpower," he said.
Goldenberg said it is hoped that the effort will allow more hospitalized patients to return to their long-term-care facilities, freeing up space in the hospitals.
The National Guard staff have a level of medical training on par with civilian EMTs, said state National Guard spokesman Eric Durr.
"The difference between them and a civilian EMT is that our medics are trained to do it while somebody's shooting at them," he said.
The medical personnel will continue to be paid by the federal government and be given a housing allowance, he said. They will generally be deployed in teams of two, he said.
Many long-term-care facilities were already seeing staff shortages before COVID-19. The pandemic — and the vaccine mandate for these workers — led additional staff to depart.
Officials at the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care did not respond to requests for comment Saturday.
Thus far, arrangements also have been made to deploy teams to: Shaker Place Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Albany County; Monroe Community Hospital; and Loretto Health and Rehabilitation Center in Onondaga County.
Other places include: MVHS Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Oneida; Clinton County Nursing Home; Willow Point Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Broome; The Pines Healthcare & Rehabilitation Centers in Cattaraugus County; Terrace View Long Term Care Facility in Erie County; The Valley Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Orange County; and Wayne County Nursing Home.
More than 1,000 state National Guard staff have been involved in pandemic efforts for about 18 months, Goldenberg said. They've served in virus testing and vaccination sites and food distribution efforts.
Omicron cases in NY rise to 8
Elsewhere, the eight cases of the omicron variant now confirmed are all downstate: seven New York City residents and one from Suffolk County, according to officials.
The Long Island case is a 67-year-old woman who recently returned from South Africa, Gov. Kathy Hochul said. The woman tested positive on Tuesday.
"We knew the omicron variant was coming and we expect to see more cases. But let me be clear: We are not defenseless," Hochul said in a release Saturday. "We have the tools to help prevent the spread of this deadly virus: Get your vaccine, get your booster, and wear your mask. Let's use these tools to protect ourselves and our loved ones as we approach the holidays."
State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said officials are seeing the beginning of community spread of the omicron variant.
"At this time, we do not know how quickly omicron will spread or how severe the symptoms of omicron will be," Bassett said. "What we are seeing is that the rise of cases across New York State continues to be traced to the delta variant. We encourage all New Yorkers to use the best preventive tools we have: Get vaccinated, get boosted and wear a mask."
The Suffolk County case was identified by at the Pandemic Response Lab on Thursday, Hochul's release said.
While all of these cases are believed to be unrelated to the recent Animé NYC convention at the Javits Center, the state continues to urge anyone who attended to get tested for COVID-19 and wear a mask in public places.
Hospitalizations, deaths continue to rise
Meanwhile, Long Island and the state continued to see virus-related deaths and hospitalizations trend upward.
The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 related illness increased by 91 to a total of 3,198 in New York, state officials said Saturday. That included 494 newly admitted patients.
Those in the ICU increased by 21 to 616, officials said.
A total of 42 people died of virus-related illness, including two in Suffolk and one in Nassau, officials said.
"As we begin to add a layer of clothing to stay warm from the cold weather, getting your booster will give you the gift of an added layer of protection against severe illness from COVID-19," Hochul said.
Long Island saw 1,518 new cases, with 688 in Nassau and 830 in Suffolk, officials said.
The Island's seven-day average percentage of positive tests — which was 5.50% Wednesday and 5.83% Thursday — increased to 5.90% on Friday, according to state figures.
That percentage was as low as 2.08% as recently as Oct. 28.
Check back for updates to this developing story.
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