Broome County Adds 200 Beds To Hospitals, Sets Up A Temporary Morgue

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BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — Broome County officials announced a record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on Tuesday. They said there were 87 people in the county’s hospitals with the virus, up from 54 last week.

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Of those 87 patients, 54 are Broome County residents. The other 33 are residents from other counties, where health care may not be available.

The county is supplying the hospitals, Lourdes and UHS, with more than 200 new patient beds to help them meet the state’s new “surge and flex” orders, which requires hospitals to increase their capacity by 25 percent. Hospitals had already been preparing surge plans for this expansion under the state’s Winter COVID Plan.

The plan includes moving patients within a private hospital system between their facilities, or transferring them to another system if needed.

Mike Ponticello, Broome County Emergency Services Director, said the hospitals are converting space within their building to hold new patients.

“They’re ‘surging in place,’” Ponticello explained. “They’re doing it within their existing footprints and creating the spaces for patient care.”

A third of all ICU beds in Broome County remain available.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 154 COVID-19 deaths in the county.

County Executive Jason Garnar announced they are setting up a temporary morgue to hold the deceased as extra space becomes needed.

“This is not to scare people,” Garnar said. “If your loved ones die, we want to make sure that there’s the ability to respectfully handle their remains.”

The county organized a similar temporary morgue in April. The new morgue is not currently in use.

Garnar said the majority of COVID-19 spread is coming from small gatherings in residents’ homes. There are now 669 active COVID-19 cases countywide.