BRADFORD, Pa. — More voices are joining in the cry to save the hospital in Bradford, including those of health care professionals.

One such professional spoke to The Bradford Era under the condition of anonymity. Upper Allegany Health System officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but admonished The Era for “scaring people,” saying it could “cost lives.”

The medical professional said, “I can understand what (the administration) did and why they did it,” referring to reducing services at Bradford Regional Medical Center and consolidating them at Olean (N.Y.) General Hospital. “But now that they see this, that this model doesn’t work in good conditions, and it sure as hell doesn’t work under these conditions, they need to rethink this strategy and open some beds.”

In January, mid-pandemic, Upper Allegheny publicly announced plans to move surgical and intensive care services from Bradford Regional to OGH. A state minimum of 10 beds remain available for use at BRMC.

The professional said there is no backup plan for treating those patients who are admitted to those beds. If someone takes a sudden turn for the worse, they are moved down to the emergency room for treatment.

“This is not their area of expertise,” he said of the nurses and staff in the emergency room. “You need to have a good bail-out strategy. There’s no place to go if somebody crashes.”

As of Tuesday, there were 52 people being treated for COVID at Upper Allegheny hospitals — three in the emergency room at BRMC and two on the floor and at Olean General, 33 on the floor, eight in the ER and six in intensive care, according to hospital officials.

Because of COVID and the start of the flu season, hospitals in the region are near capacity.

“It’s just going to get worse,” the professional said.

Telemedicine is being used in Bradford Regional currently, with patients being seen by a physician assistant or nurse practitioner before talking to the doctor on a television screen — from Jerusalem — in Israel.

“Oh, yeah,” the Bradford health professional said, “Jerusalem. I don’t know that it makes a whole lot of difference where the doctor is from if he’s on a screen and not in the building.”

Referring to the 10 beds at Bradford, the professional said, “The original plan was not to have any beds here. But those beds are always full.”

The administration “didn’t accomplish anything” by making these changes. “They are running the same amount of beds with less staff. They didn’t save money.”

The professional lauded the efforts of the nurses and doctors remaining at BRMC, saying they are “working their asses off. There are no shortcomings in the people who work in this institution. They are 100% dedicated to the community.”

The only thing that’s changed is there are less of them, the professional said.

While people have mentioned that hospital officials should reopen the ICU in Bradford, the professional told The Era that “the equipment is pretty much gone.”

The state of BRMC has been highlighted recently through a grassroots group called Save Our Hospital. On the group’s Facebook page, Dr. Steven Herrmann, a cardiologist, and several current and former nurses have commented about the conditions at the hospital.

Herrmann’s post went so far as to say patients should avoid BRMC in the current environment, saying there is limited access to physicians and no guarantee of a transfer to a tertiary facility.

An emergency room nurse has posted to Facebook about the hardships of working in the ER now, saying she and her co-workers feel defeated and fear for their mental health.

“We can’t keep going on like this. Yes, this is happening all over the country, but WE are expected to be a full functioning emergency room with no ancillary services available to provide complete care,” she wrote. “We can’t get our sick patients transferred. They are being held for days. We are dealing heavily with Covid in a town that has a large population that greatly disregards the severity of the virus, or acknowledges the virus even exists.

“There is no true answer, at least we haven’t heard of any other than this is what is happening everywhere. Well, these are people’s lives. Patients and staff deserve better. It won’t be long and there won’t even be staff to work in the hospital that everyone is trying to save.”

Jones Memorial Hospital update

As of Tuesday, 55% of the medical patients at Jones Memorial Hospital were admitted with a serious COVID illness. JMH officials said this led to a delay in admissions from the Emergency Room Monday.

Ambulance squads were advised that depending on the patient’s condition they may have to wait until a bed became available in the ER.

Throughout the fall, JMH has maintained a COVID census of more than 50%.

“It feels like for every patient who is discharged, two more are admitted,” Sandra Watkins, vice president of patient care services at Jones, said. “Since September, we have admitted 98 patients with COVID. When we talk about a 50% COVID census, it is important to understand that these are different patients each day.”

Like hospitals everywhere, Jones Memorial has experienced a staffing shortage that is — for the most part — unrelated to the state’s vaccine mandate.

“I am so proud of our staff; despite this incredibly challenging time, they have continued to provide the care our patients expect,” Jim Helms, CEO at Jones, said. “They have proven their commitment to the health of our community while minimizing delays or disruptions as much as possible.”

Jones continues to work with UR Medicine affiliates and other community hospitals in the area on strategies to balance the number of patients between facilities as much as possible. The hospital has remained open and without diversions since the NYS mandate.

Helms also recognized the sacrifices of our local ambulance squads, while urging residents to get vaccinated or receive a booster shot.

“The best way to support Jones Memorial Hospital and our local first responders right now is to get vaccinated,” he said.

The hospital has weekly vaccine and booster clinics on the following Thursdays by appointment — call (585) 596-4114 or walk in — Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 30.

Trending Food Videos