Dear members of the community:
We have surpassed the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic. The news is positive throughout our region in that COVID infection rates are significantly down.
At Oneida Health, we currently have one COVID-19 positive patient in the hospital and no COVID-19 positive residents in our Extended Care Facility. Our emergency department is experiencing similar significant decreases in volume of COVID visits.
In addition, the COVID patients we are seeing in the ED are presenting with more mild symptoms as compared to when the pandemic first hit. This is good news.
Through the height of the pandemic, Oneida Health implemented changes to create an environment to deliver safe health care. Through those efforts, we were able to render care to thousands in our community without increased risk of infection.
As we enter this next phase of the pandemic, I want to reassure you that Oneida Health is continuing to strive for the same safe health care experience for routine care, emergent care and elective procedures.
We offered several vaccination clinics to our staff and, to date, have vaccinated the majority of our team – not only on the Oneida Health campus, but also in our primary care, specialty care and Quick Care practices; we implemented policies and strategies that are proven effective in protecting patients and staff. We screen and monitor everyone presenting to any of our facilities. We continue to operate our standalone COVID-19 screening center as a resource to minimize symptomatic patients in the offices. Staff continue daily monitoring of symptoms and utilizing personal protective equipment.
We also continue to adhere to infection control cleaning guidelines.
‘The New York Times’ recently published an article titled “Advanced Cancers Are Emerging, Doctors Warn, Citing Pandemic Drop in Screenings.” The article referenced statistics that numbers of patients being screened for breast, colon and cervical cancers are significantly lower than pre-pandemic numbers. The result is individuals are now presenting with more advanced cancer when they finally decide to seek care.
The fear of being infected with COVID was one reason for the drop in screenings. Another reason is lost employment and insurance coverage, making people unable to afford screening exams.
I mention cancer screening, as there is proof that the earlier cancer is found, the better the outcome. Later-stage cancers result in significantly more treatment, which does not always achieve cure or remission. This early detection benefit includes breast, colon, cervical, prostate and lung cancers.
There are state funds available for individuals to access payment for screenings, in the event you do not have insurance coverage. To access that program, call the New York State Cancer Services Program at 866.442.2262.
As this area’s major healthcare provider, it is important you understand we are here for you. Making an appointment to see your primary care provider is one of the best things you can do for your ongoing well-being; delaying care due to fear of COVID is not in your best interests for your health.
Thank you for allowing us to serve you with our goal of providing you with exceptional care … always.
President and CEO Gene F. Morreale, Oneida Health