Dedicates much of CH Magazine issue to highlights and current status.
March 17, 2021 Ithaca, New York – Cayuga Health officials recently reflected on the difficult road and many successes since March of last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit our region, and they decided to dedicate much of the Winter issue of CH Magazine to the many highlights and accomplishments.
“Protecting the public’s health during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been the largest community health initiative ever undertaken by Cayuga Health together with our partners at the Tompkins County Health Department, Schuyler County Public Health, and Cortland County Health Department,” states Dr. Martin Stallone, President & CEO of Cayuga Health. “I am awed by what we have accomplished since last March, when the first case of COVID-19 emerged in Tompkins County. Those achievements have contributed to the region’s low infection rate. Just 0.3 percent of the COVID-19 samples in Tompkins County have tested positive for the infection. The county’s infection rate has been the lowest rate in New York since early spring and is now 15 times lower than the state’s infection rate.”
Playing a key role in this achievement are the six COVID Sampling Centers operated by Cayuga Health in coordination with county health departments in Tompkins, Cortland, Schuyler, and Onondaga counties. Rapid testing allowed those with confirmed or suspected COVID infection to be isolated and quarantined, thereby reducing the spread of infection. Working with health departments in Tompkins, Schuyler, Cortland counties, and other public health agencies in the region, the nurses and staff of Cayuga Health Partners ensured potentially infectious individuals adhered to infection control procedures.
Creation of the new COVID Processing Center & Laboratory: By early February, Cayuga Medical Center’s Laboratory had tested hundreds of thousands of samples since mid-March 2020 when Cayuga Health and the Tompkins County Health Department launched the region’s first COVID Sampling Center. To handle increasing volumes of COVID tests and provide next day results, they opened a 20,000-square-foot COVID Processing Center & Laboratory in the fall in the Cornell Business & Technology Park. Their Brown Road facility operates around the clock, seven days a week with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment produced by Rheonix Inc., an Ithaca medical device manufacturer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave Emergency Use Authorization in April 2020 for Cayuga Medical Center’s Laboratory to use the Rheonix technology. Skilled laboratory workers operate about 20 Rheonix units with a capacity to process about 8,000 tests daily. More units will arrive in the coming months as their testing program and lab staff grows.
COVID Vaccination Clinic: In late December, Cayuga Health and the Tompkins County Health Department opened a Vaccination Center at the Ithaca mall. The 40,000-square-foot facility is capable of administering 2,000 shots each day. Gov. Andrew Cuomo applauded the local program for administering 100 percent of the vaccines it received – Cayuga Medical Center was one of only eight hospitals in New York State to accomplish this.
“When I think about where we started at our first COVID ‘planning’ meeting in March of last year, it simply amazes me to see how far we have come, adds Stallone. “Building a comprehensive pandemic program, developing the region’s comprehensive effort to screen, test, prevent COVID-19 infections, and launching the vaccination program required the agility, dedication, and coordination of our community partners and Cayuga Health staff. I could not be prouder.”
About Cayuga Health
Cayuga Health (CH) has two hospitals, Cayuga Medical Center and Schuyler Hospital, as well as a multi-specialty group, Cayuga Medical Associates. Combined employment, including affiliated organizations, is over 2,200 employees. CH is clinically linked to Mayo Medical Laboratories, Rochester Regional Health for cardiac services, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center for cancer services, and the University of Rochester for neurosciences. Visit www.cayugahealth.org for more information.
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Contact: John Turner, Vice President, Public Relations