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Flu cases rising across Finger Lakes: But bed shortages at nursing homes causing bigger problems

Flu season is underway and hospitals in the Finger Lakes are feeling the strain. But it’s not exclusively because of individual illnesses.

Health officials from around the region are encouraging people to get their annual flu vaccine to avoid coming down with it this fall or winter.

The state Department of Health is reporting an uptick in influenza cases this October. It’s been a faster progression than usual, according to Ontario County Health Director Mary Beer.


“It’s just really quickly spreading,” she told 13WHAM-TV recently. “Usually we see a slow progression.”

Between understaffing at healthcare facilities big- and small, as well as financial stress many hospitals in rural parts of Upstate New York are facing – it’s creating a lot of uncertainty.

For Strong Memorial Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the Finger Lakes region, they have 886 licensed beds. At any given time, officials with Strong’s leadership say they have upwards of 1,000 patients admitted or waiting for beds.

They say capacity at hospitals is a bigger issue now than it was during the pandemic. “Our ability to meet demands for elective surgical cases is already strained and a total pause on elective surgeries is possible unless things improve,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Apostolokas told WHEC-TV.

The biggest problem when it comes to hospitals is the lack of nursing home beds. There’s a backup of patients who are medically stable but need to be placed in nursing homes. There’s a massive shortage of those beds available across the region, so hospitals are left dealing with the pain.



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