ALBANY — As the county again breaks the record for the number of positive cases and hospitalizations continue to go up, St. Peter’s Health Partners is setting up a facility at Shaker Place, the county run nursing home in Colonie, to handle overflow patients from Capital District hospitals.
The 160 beds at the newly renovated Shaker Place will be located in a separate section, called the Tower, from the some 172 residents who live there full time and were recently moved into the new section. The Tower has a separate entrance and ventilation system and will have a separate staff overseen by St. Peter’s. The residents and staff will not mix at all, said County Executive Dan McCoy.
The target population for Shaker Place are those who are still testing positive for the virus and who still need hospital care but are no longer a risk of spreading it.
Dr. James Reed, president and CEO of St. Peter’s Health Partners, said the dozen hospitals across the eight-county Capital District do currently have capacity, but the overflow space is critical as the number of COVID patients continue to increase.
“If we get pushed to a wall, we are not sitting here worried looking at each other and wondering what we do now,” he said. “Having this backstop is extremely critical because we just don’t know what the numbers will be this week or next week because we know the numbers are going up.”
Right now the hospitals are working together to handle COVID patients and keep capacity under 85 percent in case there is a surge in hospitalizations. Capacity is fluctuating between 70 and 80 percent, depending on the daily number of admissions and discharges, and a number of elective surgeries and other non-critical care has been on hold for weeks.
The state has threatened shutdowns should available bed capacity go below 15 percent.
McCoy pointed to other states who are forced to set up similar overflow facilities in parking garages, cafeterias, hallways and other places not as desirous as a nursing home.
“Albany County is experiencing record levels of both hospitalizations and ICU admissions that we haven’t seen since the outbreak started,” he said. “This initiative will free up hospital beds for those who truly require hospital care.”
Meanwhile, there were 351 new COVID cases in Albany County recorded from Monday to Tuesday, breaking the old record of 346 set on Jan. 1.
Two residents died overnight — a woman in her 50s and a man in his 80s — bringing the death toll in Albany County to 256.
As of Tuesday, there have been Albany County residents who tested positive since the pandemic began. There have been 12,616 residents who tested positive and recovered, an increase of 390 since Monday.
Also, on Tuesday, the federal Center for Disease Control lowered the minimum age for people looking to get vaccinated under Phase 1B from 75 to 65. But, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said while it makes sense it will not do any good without an increase in the number of available doses.
Also under the massive Phase IB are teachers and public safety personnel.
Anyone who wants to make an appointment can visit the state website of call the hotline at 1-833-697-4829.