The number of pediatric emergencies in the small upstate town of Fulton quadrupled, as parents rushed their sick children to New York-based hospitals unable to deal with the influx. Reports of severe cases of C diff bug began appearing almost immediately.
“Fulton received a lot of media attention,” said Dr Rebecca Sloth, the emergency department medical director at Hoosick Falls Medical Center, in a statement.
“It was an inconvenience for the hospital but we were able to handle it. Our safety protocols for bad weather were in effect and we had to rely on staffing and efficiency within the hospital that we had to keep working. Our hospital team did a phenomenal job.”
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Covid was first identified in 2007 by public health authorities and became more common in 2010 when it is estimated to have sickened roughly 100,000 Americans. It typically makes its first appearance in people who were recently exposed to someone with C diff.
People with C diff are commonly able to treat it with antibiotics, but patients in acute medical cases are given a short course of drugs to keep their illnesses from spreading.
Their numbers in the US began to increase again in 2014. Tragically, three years later the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said C diff accounts for 36,000 deaths each year.
“A lot of people don’t even know it’s a serious infection,” said Dr Kathleen Piermont, an epidemiologist at the New York state health department. “The most common symptoms are diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, muscle aches and fever for up to 10 days.”
As Covid cases multiplied over the last year, all the hospitals in the area started to see a surge in adults. Unlike adults, who were typically stabilized after 48 hours, babies had been taken to the hospital at the earliest stages of the illness. At least four infants have died from the illness over the last year.
In a 2014 incident, state and federal officials were scolded for their handling of a C diff case in Bell, New York, a town just north of Hoosick Falls. A patient received intravenous antibiotics, then was sent home. The patient later died after he tested positive for C diff in his arm fluids. Four days later, and despite increasing scrutiny of the situation, a public outcry over the “act of aggression” that was being used, had residents threatening to burn down the local hospital and a very pregnant woman arrested for taking her son to the hospital.
Hoosick Falls Medical Center is on an island just outside of Hoosick Falls, close to Hoosick Falls village. Medics at the hospital transport patients between the state and United States via FedEx on the U156 – a sparsely used route that began with the Dutchess county primary care center in midtown Manhattan. Most residents drive to Albany to get the nearest emergency room.
“Of the large hospitals in the area, our Emergency Department has one of the best infrastructures,” said Dr Elizabeth Reid, the medical director of the hospital’s department of emergency medical services.
At Hoosick Falls, the facility has an intensive care unit and liver, respiratory and heart care units but due to limited resources other patients have gone to Albany or other nearby hospitals.