CANANDAIGUA, N.Y. (WROC) — FF Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua temporarily diverted patients twice last week, amid hospital bed shortages across the state.

Hospitals alert the state when they want to make a diversion, and the state alerts emergency medical services to bring patients elsewhere for a set period of time.

Thompson representatives said they enacted diversions on November 16 and November 18. They said it was necessary because they had a number of patients in the emergency department requiring intensive care, but no room in the ICU to move them out of the ED.

“That being said, we would never turn away an ambulance,” said Anne Johnston with UR Medicine Thompson Health. “So if an ambulance were to arrive with a patient needing emergency care, we would absolutely provide the care.”

Thompson representatives said they could not transfer their ICU patients to other area hospitals, because there were no available ICU beds in all of Western New York. This, they said, was because many hospital patients have been waiting to be placed into nursing homes, but there were no beds available at nursing homes in the region.

“We’re sending out nursing home applications 100 miles away,” UR Thompson CEO Michael Stapleton said. “We’re actually trying to get a patient right now to New York City because that’s the only bed availability that we got.” 

Of the 24 COVID-19 positive patients in Thompson’s Care, Stapleton reported 17 of them were unvaccinated and in need of serious care.

Thompson representatives said:

Our two diversions last week (on 11/16 and 11/18) were due to several patients in the Emergency Department who were awaiting admission to the hospital. This included several ICU-level patients, and all of our ICU beds were full. When we tried to transfer these patients, there were no available ICU beds in western New York. As has been the case for several weeks, there are many patients in the hospital awaiting nursing home placement, and there are no nursing home beds available in the region. Diversion gives us a chance to decompress for a short period, diverting EMS to other hospitals.

UR Medicine Thompson Health statement

According to the New York State Department of Health, “A diversion request does not mean the hospital ED is closed, but usually means the current emergency patient load exceeds the Emergency Department’s ability to treat additional patients promptly.”

News 8 has reached out to other area hospitals in similar situations, but has not heard back.

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

Statement from Sen. Jeremy Cooney

We are aware of the shrinking availability of hospital beds across health systems in our region and how this is impacting our local facilities. This troubling news comes at a time when we are seeing COVID19 cases rise across our state and country. While workforce shortages remain a major issue for hospitals and care facilities, we believe the science and the health experts who tell us that we are all safer when more of us are vaccinated. I stand by our health officials and trust that if we do our part to ensure high rates of vaccination that we will move closer to recovery.

NYS Senator Jeremy Cooney (D-56)