ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer traveled to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester Friday afternoon to call for more federal resources to help on the COVID-19 frontlines.
The senator said he wants flexible, medically-trained military staff to provide relief to hospitals like Strong to combat the omicron surge in Upstate New York.
“We all know that omicron is here in New York,” Sen. Schumer said. “COVID rates are raging again, especially here in Rochester, where positivity is close to the highest in the state. When you think about the Monroe County population, averaging 1,000 new COVID cases per day is a heck of a lot.”
Schumer announced a push for FEMA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide support personnel for struggling Upstate hospitals, alleviate chronic staffing shortages, and get healthcare workers the relief the need.
“Rochester has great health care, but unfortunately the workers are exhausted and overworked,” Sen. Schumer said. “If they have COVID, they can’t do the job. They want to work, but the can’t. You have this pincer that is hurting us, and it’s putting great institutions under tremendous strain. Currently, Strong is experience a historic level of admissions.”
The senator said it’s time to “bring in the troops.” He said a FEMA task force has medically-trained disaster teams and Schumer is requesting teams be sent to Rochester. He said each military team consists of about 30 doctors, nurses, and technicians. Schumer said he requested several teams respond to the Rochester area.
According to the senator, these FEMA teams have previously prioritized public hospitals, but Schumer is calling on the teams to be sent to any hospital that needs the relief.
“I’m going to keep fighting tooth and nail for Strong Hospital, along with the other hospitals in the Finger Lakes region,” Sen. Schumer said.
Schumer said the FEMA teams were more skilled personnel than the New York National Guard assistance teams that Gov. Kathy Hochul deployed to hospitals throughout the state late last year.