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Schumer says he'll push for military medical personnel to aid Rochester hospitals

Senator Chuck Schumer URMC 1-21-22
provided photo
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, at a news conference at Strong Memorial Hospital on Jan. 21, 2022

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a stop in Rochester on Friday to say that he will push the federal government to provide help for local hospitals, which have been dealing with large patient caseloads and not enough staffing.

Officials at the University of Rochester Medical Center, who also attended a news conference at Strong Memorial Hospital with the New York Democrat, said that they’ve been dealing with hundreds of staff absences due to COVID-19, and at the same time, the emergency rooms and other patient facilities have been inundated with patients.

Schumer said that one way to alleviate that stress is if the federal government could provide some members of its disaster assistance teams to back up the staffs at Rochester hospitals.

And he said unlike some of the other support personnel supplied through the National Guard, this would include trained military medical personnel.

“Some are doctors, some are nurses, some are just support personnel, who can do whatever the hospital administrators tell them they need to do,” said Schumer. “But they’re needed and each team has about 30 people, so that’s a big, big help at this time. 30 skilled people and we can hopefully get more than one team.”

The pledge of support is welcome news to Steven Goldstein, who is President and CEO of Strong Hospital. He said the hospital has been dealing with hundreds of staff absences due to the COVID pandemic.

“We also are finding that because of the crisis of staffing, particularly an inability to move nursing home patients, that we have patients backed up in the (emergency department), we’re not able to do the elective surgeries that people need, and we need (Senator Schumer’s) help again,” said Goldstein.

Schumer also said that there is bi-partisan support in Congress to look at additional funding for hospitals when the upcoming budget bill is approved.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.