May 27, 2020

Dear Editor,

In these unprecedented times, we are all struggling with some form of loss: a loved one, a job, our former daily routines. This pandemic has also expanded the definition of loss exponentially. In healthcare, and in New York State alone, the loss has been unimaginable. Our state treated more COVID-19 positive patients than any other state in the country. In fact, nearly 45% of total confirmed U.S. cases have been identified here. While hospitals in upstate New York have not seen the influx of COVID patients as compared to their downstate counterparts, they have been equally affected by this pandemic, losing over $1 billion in revenue since the onset.

Since the pandemic began, upstate New York’s hospitals stood ready. They prepared for an influx of patients by creating surge capacity, expanding operations and infrastructure and acquiring needed supplies. When the surge didn’t happen, upstate hospitals offered to take patients from downstate, to share staff and donate equipment and supplies at a time when costs for masks, isolation gowns, face shields and gloves increased between 300 and 2000 percent.

In March, all hospitals stopped normal operations in compliance with the state’s mandate that hospitals halt all elective procedures and other routine care. Needed but non-urgent treatment was delayed for some patients and others hesitated to seek care for even urgent problems, such as heart attack or stroke.

The halt of services also