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Military medical teams get situated at Strong Hospital, say it's a seamless transition

Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center will place more than 1,500 employees on furlough starting Sunday, the medical center said.
Strong Memorial Hospital at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

The staff at Strong Memorial Hospital has received some military back-up.

Two Air Force teams were recently deployed to help with the influx of patients brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lt. Col. Allan Delgado, a team leader, described the 30-day mission as an easy transition. Delgado said the teams need to learn about the system and its electronic records, but in the end, he said one thing remains the same.

“Medicine is still medicine," he said.

The team consists of roughly 40 members, which includes military physicians, nurses, medics and respiratory therapists who work side by side with the hospital’s clinical staff.

“We will help tackle the continued need for access to medical care within the local community by increasing hospital capacity,” Delgado said.

Despite the decline in regional COVID-19 cases, Strong’s Chief Operating Officer Kathy Parrinello said the number of patients requiring hospitalization still remains high. This in part due to the pause in elective and semi-elective procedures to focus on COVID hospitalizations.

“We're finding that some of this backlog in inpatient need is creating continued high census,” said Parrinello. “This medical military team is enormously helpful in helping us continue to keep all our beds open so we can take care of patients.”

Parrinello said the hospital is licensed for 866 beds and frequently has more than 900 patients, including patients that require nursing home care.

She added that the military staff is very flexible, and will also assist staff dealing with nursing home patients still in inpatient care.

“We've cohorted a number of patients that are ready medically but still have to receive care in the hospital. This team has been very helpful in working in that unit.” Parrinello said.

Racquel Stephen is WXXI's health, equity and community reporter and producer. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from the University of Rochester and a master's degree in broadcasting and digital journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.