Displaying items by tag: saratoga hospital

First in Northern New York, Third in Albany region and Twenty-second statewide

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Saratoga Hospital has once again been named a Best Regional Hospital by U.S. News & World Report, taking the top spot in Northern New York and ranking third in the Albany region for 2020-2021.

Saratoga Hospital is ranked twenty-second in New York state and was rated “high performing” in four specialties, procedures and conditions: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, hip replacement, and knee replacement.

“This ‘best’ designation is a tribute to every member of our organization—their skills, their overriding commitment to quality, and their passion for serving this community,” said Angelo Calbone, Saratoga Hospital president and CEO. “During these uncertain and challenging times, the U.S. News recognition is yet another reminder that, in Saratoga Hospital, our community has a safe place to turn for exceptional care.”

For the 2020-2021 rankings and ratings, U.S. News evaluated more than 4,500 hospitals and medical centers nationwide in 16 specialties, 10 procedures and conditions. Of those facilities, 560—less than 14%—earned the “best” designation. Saratoga Hospital also received the designation in 2018-2019.

Published in Local News
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Two months before Dr. Timothy Brooks was set to retire as medical director, chair and chief of emergency medicine at Saratoga Hospital, COVID-19 struck New York City. “We saw what was happening—and that it could happen here,” Dr. Brooks said. “I couldn’t in good faith walk away.”

Instead, he stayed for what would become some of the most challenging months of his more-than-30-year career. As he’d done so many times since coming here in 1987, Dr. Brooks helped lead the hospital and community response.

Now, with COVID-19 numbers down throughout the region and systems in place to identify, treat and protect patients and staff, Dr. Brooks can move ahead with his plans. He retires July 31 with the respect, admiration and gratitude of patients, medical and emergency response professionals, organizations and officials throughout the region.

Those who know Dr. Brooks weren’t surprised that he put the community first.

“In many ways, Dr. Brooks is a rock that we built the hospital on,” said Dr. Richard Falivena, vice president and chief medical and physician integration officer at Saratoga Hospital. “He has been instrumental in helping us launch almost every clinical program we offer. We can’t overstate his impact.”

Making a difference for millions If you’ve received emergency medical care, been an inpatient at Saratoga Hospital, or visited one of its urgent care centers, Dr. Brooks has made a difference in your care. He’s also informed public health policy and
decisions in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County, and he’s been instrumental in bringing people together to improve emergency preparedness.

“After 9/11 we realized we had to change our approach,” Dr. Brooks recalled. “We formed a countywide committee and developed plans for managing mass-casualty situations, including biological warfare and pandemics. We’ve been meeting quarterly ever since.”

The committee, which Dr. Brooks chaired from its inception until his retirement, included dozens of health and safety officials. It also caught the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which asked Dr. Brooks to serve as a consultant on educating physicians on bioterrorism.

“He is so respected, within and outside the hospital,” said Ann Marie Cross, MS, RN, administrative director for emergency and urgent care services at Saratoga Hospital. “People know who he is, what he’s done, and how much he cares about everyone.” 

Ms. Cross and Dr. Brooks were “a tag team” for 11 years. She attributes his impact to a combination of exceptional clinical skills and bedside manner, a genuine love of teaching and mentoring, and a fundamental belief in collaboration.

“He knew that what we did in the Emergency Department would affect other providers and departments, so he always involved them in the decision-making,” Ms. Cross said.

“He set the stage for so much of what we do,” she added. “He was constantly striving to improve care, and that affected the way we develop protocols, learn from every experience, and collaborate to do what’s best for our patients.

“That’s not going to change,” Ms. Cross said. “It will be his legacy.

Published in Local News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital is not changing the hospital’s current “No Visitors” policy.

The governor’s recent directive allows each hospital to reconsider its visitation policies and use its best judgment. Following a careful assessment of our current “No Visitors” policy, including consulting with our nursing and physician leadership, we have come to the conclusion that the safeguards provided by restricting visitation is in the best interest of our patients and our staff.

This is particularly important as we witness the volatility of the spread of the virus in other regions across the country and new travel quarantines being implemented.

As of this week, and since June 12, Saratoga Hospital has had no COVID-19 positive inpatients. Since the beginning of this crisis, Saratoga Hospital has also had no hospital-acquired COVID-19 infections. And early on in this crisis, Saratoga Hospital was the first and only hospital in the region to institute an advanced testing protocol for patients to be rapid-tested for COVID-19 before being admitted to the hospital. Knowing every patient’s status allowed the hospital staff to manage a patient’s stay much more efficiently and effectively, increasing patient and staff safety and increasing confidence in our hospital.

When essential elective procedures were allowed to restart in late April after being postponed by NYSDOH directives, all patients were required to be tested before any surgeries or procedures were performed. No COVID-19 positive patient was allowed to undergo a procedure until subsequently testing negative.

In short, every policy and protocol we have enacted has made Saratoga Hospital safer for our patients, our staff, and our community. With that level of success in our safety plan implementation, we feel it is best to continue to enforce a “No Visitor” policy and continue to reduce risk.

We understand and respect the frustration this may place on our patients, their families and friends. We have always made compassionate exceptions, made on a case-by-case basis as directed by our patient care team. When possible, we assist patients with iPad or smartphone virtual visits. And we have made our Inpatient Transition Program team available for personal phone calls to families to provide extra comfort and answer questions they may have. Each of these efforts was part of our visitation policy assessment.

We will continue to monitor and reassess the policy. The current visitation policy is available on the hospital’s website: SaratogaHospital.org/COVID19.

Published in News
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Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:38

Antibody Testing Now Available

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital offers COVID-19 antibody testing at all outpatient laboratory locations, including Malta Med Emergent Care, Saratoga Hospital Urgent Care – Wilton and Saratoga Hospital Urgent Care – Adirondack. 

Antibody tests are blood tests that look for proteins that have developed in response to an infection, in this case the new coronavirus. A positive test result means that a patient has had and has recovered from COVID-19. Antibodies could offer some protection against future COVID-19 infection by preventing reinfection or helping the immune system fight the virus faster or more effectively.

Test results could provide helpful information to the broader community. If enough people are tested, antibody status could offer insights on how widespread COVID-19 has been in the region. The tests can also identify potential donors for convalescent plasma therapy, which uses blood and antibodies from those who have recovered from COVID-19 to help patients who have the virus. 

Over a six-week period, from May 1 to June 13, the state initiated 12,000 randomly conducted antibody tests. The results, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed June 16, show that 13.4 % of those tested across the state had at some point had the virus. In the greater Capital Region specifically, 2.5% of those tested were shown to have at some point had the virus.    

Tests must be ordered by a healthcare provider. Results are usually reported to patients by their provider or Saratoga Hospital in three to five days. There is no copay.

How to get an antibody test:

A provider order is required for antibody tests at all Saratoga Hospital outpatient lab locations.
Given their extended hours, Malta Med Emergent Care, Urgent Care – Adirondack, and the outpatient lab at Wilton Medical Arts will be the preferred option for many patients.
Patients who do not have an order can come to Urgent Care: Wilton and Urgent Care: Adirondack during normal business hours or Malta Med Emergent Care 24/7 for a screening to determine their eligibility. Those who qualify will be tested. Patients will be charged a copay for the screening but not for the test.

All tests are processed by Saratoga Hospital, which meets the latest Food and Drug Administration validation criteria.

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — In every public crisis, people rely on the training and courage of first responders and emergency medical personnel. While that remains true in the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams whose mettle are most tested are in
the laboratory. 

Saratoga Hospital’s Chair and Medical Director of Saratoga Hospital Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Josenia “Joy” Tan, MD, MT(ASCP), FCAP, and Director of Laboratory Services Richard Vandell, MS, MT(ASCP)SC, SH, knew they were facing a virus that spread like wildfire, but no one really knew how or how to identify those infected. 

According to Dr. Tan, “Even large laboratories were making decisions in the dark. So we read everything we could get our hands on for ideas. The community was counting on us, so we worked the science and kept figuring it out.”

Dr. David M. Mastrianni, senior vice president of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group, said, “Let me explain how rare our laboratory team is. When we ran out of viral transport media, they made it. When we were low on testing swabs, they had them 3D printed. When testing kits were becoming scarce, they started batch testing. And they couldn’t just implement these changes. They had to first prove these ideas worked. Other lab directors would have given up, but not ours.”

 According to Dr. Mastrianni, this response is not typical for labs outside of research campuses or even in larger hospitals. This higher level of function meant the lab was conducting research and validating the results, all while testing the public and patients for the virus as well as performing all their regular non-pandemic duties. 

“Our first task was to stop the spread, and you can’t do that without testing to identify who has it,” Vandell said. “We didn’t have enough testing supplies. No one did. But we always find a plan B.”

The lab’s initial accomplishment was to establish a testing tent in record time, making Saratoga Hospital the first and longest continuously running specimen collection facility for the COVID-19 test in the region. Overall, Saratoga Hospital has tested nearly 8,000 people.   

Then, to assure the safety of patients and staff and conserve protective gear (PPE), the hospital decided to test every inpatient. For a long time, it was the only hospital in the region to do that. Additionally, the lab obtained “rapid test” capabilities, a test for COVID-19 that could be done in-house and returns quicker results. 

These tests remain in short supply, so the lab researched “batch (or pooled) testing” to help conserve them. Five samples of low-risk patients are now combined into one vial. If the test comes back negative, four test kits as well as PPE are saved. If it comes back positive, which only happens less than 1% of the time, patients are retested individually.   

Saratoga Hospital offers physician-ordered antibody testing services, an in-house test that is another innovative use of existing resources brought about by the lab team. When rapid test collection swabs were hard to find, the team researched and obtained 3D printed swabs and validated them for use.

When many hospitals stopped testing due to a shortage of viral transport medium, a solution that preserves a patient’s sample on its way to be tested, Saratoga Hospital’s lab and in-house pharmacy made it from scratch, following CDC guidelines, then the lab validated its quality and purity, and now there’s an ample supply.   

With the combined efforts of physician leadership, the infectious disease team, senior leadership, and others, the lab also developed a diagnostic algorithm to help physicians decide which test to use and when to use it. At the time, there wasn’t one for COVID-19.   

“Our process and data for it have been submitted to the FDA and NYS Department of Health,” Dr. Tan said, “Once authorized, anyone in the country can follow our procedure. It’s remarkable, the amount of collaboration and support we have to do this.”

Working with its affiliate partner, Albany Med, Saratoga Hospital has been able to continuously work with the state laboratory to keep results moving. And Skidmore College loaned its biosafety hood, which allows laboratory scientists to safely handle infectious specimens, once the lab realized the two they had would not be enough to handle the extra capacity.

“There’s so much riding on what we do,” Vandell said. “Testing is key to reopening and will continue to be a challenge into the foreseeable future.” 

Dr. Mastrianni agreed. “To successfully meet a pandemic head on, it all boils down to having people who are really bright and a supportive administration that lets them use their imagination, good judgment, and years of experience to do what they do best.”

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — An increasingly dangerous sign of the coronavirus lockdown has come to light in recent weeks in communities across the country where there is a marked increase of people delaying seeking care when they are sick or hurt.

The issue has grown from a reluctance of people willing to go to hospitals or urgent care facilities for fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus. 

Last week, the Washington Post reported on the international phenomenon of the pandemic producing a silent sub-epidemic of people who need care at hospitals but are frightened to go to the ER. Titled “Patients with heart attacks, strokes and even appendicitis vanish from hospitals,” the article described how people with everything from inflamed appendixes to those suffering chest pains and stroke symptoms were avoiding seeking medical treatment out of fear of physically seeking care, resulting in illness and mortality concerns among the medical community. This has also played out on the local stage. 

“If you’re having a medical problem that concerns you and goes beyond what a physician in their office can manage then you should really come to the emergency department, or Urgent Care and let us take care of you. People should not wait until things can go very bad for them,” says Dr. Timothy Brooks, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. 

“Since this started, we’ve watched our volume drop off 40 to 50 %. The number of people who would normally come in by ambulance or by foot have disappeared. Our perception is that people are terrified about coming in because they have the belief they could catch COVID-19.

 “This drop in volume really concerns us, because the disease progression that people have for all the other medical problems continues on, and what we’re seeing is people waiting far too long to come in. Instead of having a problem that might require a brief hospitalization, they are critically ill and end up on a ventilator in the ICU. And that’s happened multiple times,” says Dr. Brooks, who was born in Detroit, studied at medical school at the University of Michigan and relocated to Saratoga Springs in the late 1980s

Saratoga Hospital assures that precautions are in place to take care of all patients, and everyone admitted to the hospital is tested for COVID-19. “At the hospital and at Urgent Care – we have mechanisms in place to keep people separated and to take care of them safely. There’s not a single person in the building where we don’t know their status relative to being covid-positive or covid-negative. That way we can separate people out with COVID-19 infections,” Dr. Brooks says. “They are isolated on a separate floor and are taken care of by specific nurses, and other parts of the hospitals do not have those types of patients. Once a patient leaves our department, their room is completely sanitized with the appropriate cleaners and virus-cides.” 

Inside the hospital, the work goes on. “The day has changed in the sense that when you approach patients who may be infectious it takes a little more time and preparation before you go into each room, as well as when you leave that room,” Dr. Brooks says. “I have to say I am so proud of the staff in this emergency department. Everybody stepped up to the line.” 

Regardless of when an un-pausing or reopening occurs, Brooks says until a vaccine is introduced, he anticipates the virus will circulate among the population, and that the hospital is prepared to deal with ongoing public issues. 

As for hospital occupancy, there is ample space for people to address issues both in the emergency room and the rest of the hospital. This week, Gov. Cuomo announced he will sign an Executive Order allowing some hospitals – Saratoga Hospital among them – to resume conducting elective surgeries, a practice which he had ordered halted in March as the virus was spreading across the state.   

Saratoga Hospital currently describes three working criteria for beginning what is broadly termed “elective” surgery. The procedures are defined as: medically necessary, time-sensitive surgeries for patients with significant symptoms or serious illness, and a predicted negative health impact without the surgery. 

“Cases that needed to be done and should be done, we’re in the process of bringing those back and getting them going. We’re still holding off on some areas that I would call discretionary – cosmetic plastic surgery is a good example,” says Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone. “People who are in pain, conditions that may worsen if we don’t get to them. This is work that needs to be done.”

Approximately 3,000 people work under the Saratoga Hospital banner. At the hospital, there are approximately 170 licensed beds. 

“This has been a learn-as-you-go situation. We know how to run a hospital. We know how to respond to emergencies. This has been a new struggle challenge for all of us. I can tell you the staff here have been beyond remarkable, gearing up, understanding the new protocols. They’ve done a wonderful job,” Calbone says. “Frankly what has been a challenge has been the lack of testing materials, getting access to personal protective equipment for our staff and the bottleneck supply chain that emerged. That really threw a wrench into every institution’s ability to respond to this. But how our staff managed COVID in the building isn’t that different to how they managed every infectious disease. I think the entire industry was startled as to short supplies and access to supplies and how limited testing was at the time we needed it most. That’s what made this unusually challenging.

“We have had our heads down, seven days a week, making sure this hospital is well-positioned and capable of taking care of the community. Hospitals and health care providers are very used to taking care of infectious diseases – we know how to do that. And we’ve taken great strides making this a very safe environment. We’re confident and comfortable saying to our entire community: if you need to access health care, this is as safe of an environment as you will enter anywhere in the community. Being afraid to come in, isn’t a good reason to avoid care,” Calbone says. 

“We get concerned when we see patients end up in our ER with conditions that have worsened and potentially even threatened their lives that could easily have been managed if they sought care – as they would have – three months ago. That’s a message we’re been trying to get out there.”

Published in News

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Rotary club, in conjunction with the Ballston Spa Rotary club, donated healing hand cream to the Saratoga Hospital. 

The healing hand cream was donated to the ER and ICU departments earlier this week. Linda LeTendre, member of the BHBL rotary club, said the donation was made to recognize the working conditions front line workers face while caring for COVID-19 patients. 

“This is something not a lot people have thought about and it’s a way to say: ‘we see you, we know it’s tough and we really see what you are doing.’” We do appreciate what they’re doing,” LeTendre said.

The healing hand cream was donated to nurses and doctors at the Saratoga Hospital on April 16. Medical personnel in those departments have to wash their hands so often they are experiencing dry, cracked and painful hands. LeTendre said her friend, Lisa Cole, was the inspiration behind the healing hand cream. Cole is a nurse at the Samaritan Hospital in Troy.

“It never dawned on me, but if you wash your hands a lot, they begin to crack and break,” LeTendre said. “That lets infection in. Your skin is your first line of defense against infection. It holds all your body parts in but it keeps stuff out…it keeps infection out.

Cole also works as a local Mary Kay consultant, who sells the healing hand cream. LeTendre said she purchased the hand cream at no cost from Cole.

“They’re scrubbing their hands raw in this pandemic,” LeTendre said.

To date, LaTendre said 55 tubes would be donated. On Friday, members of the rotary club will donate hand cream to the Ballston Lake Emergency Squad. They donated ten tubes of the hand cream to the hospital and the remaining 45 tubes will be divided between the two.

“I said to myself I would do this. I put out my own money out first, and then asked if anyone wanted to be a part of this,” LeTendre said.

She added that the donations made covered more than her initial donation, and she hopes it continues. 

“[Cole] is selling this at no cost, this is her way of giving back,” LeTendre said.

Published in Neighborhood Buzz

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Hospital is tapping technology to continue to meet patients’ needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The hospital offers telehealth appointments to outpatients who can’t or don’t need to be seen face-to-face, including video urgent care appointments at Malta Med Emergent Care.

“Our patients come first, and we want to make sure they feel safe and cared for,” said Kimberly Leon, director of specialty practices for Saratoga Hospital Medical Group. “Caring for patients doesn’t stop simply because the world is experiencing a crisis.”

Saratoga Hospital Medical Group is the hospital’s multispecialty practice of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The group has more than 250 providers in over 30 medical specialties. Many whose patients can be served remotely are taking advantage of the telehealth option.

“In some cases, maybe the patient can wait,” Leon said. “But if they’re anxious and would feel better being seen by their healthcare provider, a telehealth visit can provide some much-needed and beneficial reassurance.”

Telehealth technology also appeals to sick patients who are worried they will be exposed to the new coronavirus if they seek treatment at a healthcare facility. For these patients, Malta Med Emergent Care, a joint venture of Saratoga Hospital and Albany Med, offers virtual urgent care appointments from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

To request an appointment, patients can go online, click on“Book a Telehealth Appointment,” and answer a list of questions. If their condition can be diagnosed and treated remotely, patients receive a text notifying them of their appointment. At the scheduled time, depending on the make of their device, patients receive a video call via FaceTime or an email invite from Webex to join their visit. 

“We’re hearing that people are afraid to come in,” said Lisa West, site administrator at Malta Med Emergent Care. “As long as we can see the patient, we should be able to diagnose most urgent care problems. We’d rather see them virtually as soon as possible, so we can begin treatment and prevent them from getting worse.

“We’ve always been here for the community,” she added, “and we don’t want that to change because of the coronavirus.”

Saratoga Hospital also is sensitive to the concerns of family members who cannot visit hospitalized patients during the pandemic. Dr. Kevin Dooley and physician assistant Seana Mosher, of the hospital’s Inpatient Transition Program, provide phone updates to keep families in the loop.

 “We know that our restricted visitation policy, while necessary, places an extra burden on patients and family and friends who cannot visit,” said Dooley, medical director of the program, which helps high-risk hospital patients successfully transition to home. “Seana and I are checking in on inpatients and updating their families.

“We’re letting them know the extra steps we’re taking during this unprecedented time and reassuring them that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care,” he added.

 Family members can request an update from Dooley or Mosher by calling 518-886-5060.

Published in News
Thursday, 09 April 2020 12:33

A Day In The Life: Saratoga Hospital Workers

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Hospitals have become the epicenter of COVID-19 around the world, and while most feelings concerning COVID-19 include fear and anxiety with the unknown, two women at the center of it all boiled their experience thus far with COVID-19 down to one word: heartwarming.

Dr. Jacqueline Smith, hospitalist, is a member of Saratoga Hospital Medical Group – Inpatient Medicine at Saratoga Hospital. She works with Clinical Coordinator Christina (Chrissy) Citarella, BSN, RN. Citarella is a Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse working with inpatients. Both women have worked countless hours since COVID-19 hit the community in early March.

On January 20, 2020 a 35-year-old man returned to his home in Washington state after recently travelling to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. That date marks the first recorded case of the virus in the United States. News across the states travelled fast, and Citarella said the first change she noticed in her usual daily routine was the unknown surrounding the virus at the time.

“Initially, when we started hearing about the COVID patients—that the hospital would potentially be seeing these patients—we had a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty, and the staff just wanting to know what was our plan, what are we doing here,” Citarella said. 

Both Citarella and Smith said they started self-isolation early on due to their jobs in the healthcare industry. Citarella said she wanted to keep herself, family, and co-workers safe and took to extreme social distancing as the best approach. 

In her own personal life, Smith said she experienced the same initial changes the rest of the world had, and started to self-isolate weeks before the rest of the community on principle, because she was working in the hospital. 

“I considered myself high risk and took every precaution possible to avoid being with other people,” Smith said.

In her professional life, Smith said COVID-19 is a daily-changing thing. Since beginning to work with patients who had the disease, everything changed in the way they practiced. Daily conversations involving personal protective equipment (PPE) have happened regularly since.

“We have constant conversations about PPE and how to keep ourselves safe. We’ve seen a ton of innovation, which is so heartwarming, in terms of different ideas for PPE. It’s been very useful. So every day is a brand new experience, really,” Smith said. 

Angelo Calbone, President and CEO of Saratoga Hospital, shared his perspective concerning the hospital and how the institution has worked as a collective with other hospitals. Calbone said they coordinate through an early morning call with all the institutions throughout the region as a daily check-in. During that call, they compare notes, share approaches and learnings, and get a sense of what each institution is experiencing and how they’re managing it. 

“For the first time in my career, the entire region is functioning, in some ways, as a single health system and not really as competitors. It’s been a satisfying, but unique, experience that I think is helping prepare all the institutions, including Saratoga, really to be in the best position,” Calbone said. “As a collective, we have discussed and implemented changes, such as checking temperatures at all of our doors and timing the curtailment of visitors…we did that in somewhat of a coordinated fashion. We shared how we’re each using our protective equipment for our staff, testing the science and keeping an eye toward what makes our staff safest.”

 

MIXED EMOTIONS

While the virus forces the community apart, Smith said she was profoundly struck by the mixed emotions COVID-19 brought with it. She said working with a disease that is known as scary—and not yet over—creates questions concerning the unknowns of the virus. However, along with that feeling of fear and sadness the virus creates, Smith countered, “People truly need us, so that is rewarding.” 

Calbone has seen that rewarding sense reflected in hospital workers. He couldn’t think of an adjective strong enough to describe the extent to which Saratoga Hospital staff have invested their commitment to patients. He said the time and energy spent in having good plans in place appears to be paying off well, and the staff has left him in awe. 

“Their focus, calmness, and ability to take this work on while keeping their heads up has just been…we always knew we had a great staff but really seeing them work through this has been just impressive,” Calbone said. 

Smith reflected the same ideas as she mentioned her own amazement with not only the nursing staff, but with other staff, such as the kitchen and cleaning crews. She described everyone as being high quality, caring, and willing to help with whatever anyone needs, creating an amazing atmosphere at work. 

A key part in that atmosphere is the interaction both Smith and Citarella have with patients. Smith described her interactions as heartwarming, stating patients appreciate them in return and feel concerned about the staff, which she said is highly unusual. 

“It’s a comfort to me. As much as we care, they’re caring as well,” Citarella said. 

Smith said, “It also feels very heartwarming to me, caring about those patients. I want to cheer when someone leaves the hospital—I’m just so happy for them.”

Saratoga County reported its first COVID-19 case on March 7, 2020. On March 27, 2020, Saratoga County reported its first COVID-19 death. Despite the span of increasing reported cases over the last month, Calbone said social distancing is key to helping stop the spread. As of April 7, 2020, the Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services reported 167 confirmed cases in the county. 

“Social distancing and staying at home are the very best things the public can do right now. Our impression is that it’s working and having a positive impact. It hasn’t stopped this, but we do think we are seeing signs that the rate of growth is slowing, which allows all the regional hospitals to better manage the influx. We appreciate what the community is doing, we can tell, and we think it’s working,” Calbone said.

THE UNKNOWN & THE UNCERTAINTY

After reporting the county’s first case one month ago, both Smith and Citarella noticed fear isn’t playing a large part in the virus anymore. They said they no longer see fear in patient’s or co-worker’s eyes as they work with the virus. 

“This is very scary, but I have to say, the staff has done an absolutely phenomenal job being extremely professional and calm. I don’t see fear in people’s eyes. I think everyone just wants to help and that is pretty amazing,” Citarella said. 

Both women said they feel very safe while working at the hospital, but that feeling changes as soon as they step out of that environment. Citarella is living at her home with her husband, practicing social distancing even inside the home. Besides an occasional trip to the grocery store, Citarella said she keeps to herself. 

“I feel very safe [at work]. Being out in the grocery store—it’s the unknown and the uncertainty there,” Citarella said. 

Smith said she currently lives by herself, so while it’s easy to self-isolate, the biggest challenge she faces is venturing out to get groceries.

“I have not been to a grocery store in probably a month, and I’ve managed to order things online, but I can’t do that anymore. They’re just not available. I’m going to have to go to a grocery store. I’ve put it off for three weeks now,” Smith said. “I’m becoming a really creative cook,” Smith finished with a laugh. 

But it’s no laughing matter for those who travel to the grocery store. From being exposed safely to COVID-19 on a daily basis, Smith doesn’t feel that she should be in a grocery store but simply has no other choice. To keep the safe feeling they have inside the hospital when they are out in public places, such as grocery stores, both women said social distancing is key in uncontrolled environments. 

“What influences people to do the right thing? [By not social distancing] people are not choosing the right thing. Why do they do that…I don’t know,” Smith said. 

Calbone reflected those same feelings about the safe environment the hospital generates. He said a combination of limited building access, proper hand washing hygiene, and masking has all contributed to create that protected environment. 

“We have long-established protocols and products here on how we disinfect and isolate areas. The public can’t access this building anymore. General visitors can’t come anymore. Other businesses and locations can’t necessarily make that work. If they don’t want the public accessing their space, they can’t do business. Whereas, we can keep our staff here taking care of patients, restrict a lot of traffic, and still do what we need to do,” Calbone said. 

Calbone encouraged the public to continue proper social distancing and recommended masks should be used as well in public places. He said the masks provide more protection when it’s on someone who is sick. If everyone in public spaces uses masks, it can create a more comfortable sense, similar to the atmosphere the hospital holds. 

At the end of the day, Calbone said personal health comes first. While practicing social distancing, proper hand washing, and self-isolating all contribute toward limiting the spread of COVID-19, people still need to pay attention to their health. 

“If people need healthcare, they should not be afraid to access healthcare. The emergency room is open; we can still manage almost any case here in the organization. We would hate for people who need care to be staying away, allowing their conditions to worsen because they somehow think they shouldn’t or can’t access the hospital. We know that perception probably exists, but that really isn’t the case,” Calbone said.

Published in Business

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Skidmore College has donated truckloads of protective gear, including tens of thousands of gloves, and other supplies to Saratoga Hospital to boost the local community's capacity to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Skidmore employees have been searching through science laboratories, art studios and other facilities in recent days to gather the supplies, which have included more than 85,000 protective gloves, 60 N95 masks, hundreds of pairs of goggles and protective eyewear, disinfectants and other essential items that are currently in short supply due to the coronavirus.

The donations filled two pickup trucks on Saturday, March 21, and three additional carloads on Friday, March 27. All the items are commonly used in college science laboratories and other facilities, and Skidmore had purchased them for use by faculty, staff and students.

"We worked to gather as many supplies as possible. When I reached out to colleagues, many pointed out that they had other items that could also help,” said Kara Cetto Bales, senior instructor in chemistry and associate director of environmental health and safety, who coordinated the collection efforts at Skidmore in collaboration with faculty and staff across campus. “We continue to be in touch with Saratoga Hospital about other equipment and supplies that may be beneficial.”

Saratoga Hospital President and CEO Angelo Calbone welcomed the donations, calling Skidmore “a wonderful partner and neighbor and an extraordinary asset to the Saratoga region.”

The latest donations included an additional 65,500 gloves, hundreds of pairs of goggles and glasses, eight UV lamps, 40 N95 masks, a dozen face shields, cleaning supplies, two dozen disposable filtration units and a vacuum pump.

Published in Neighborhood Buzz
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