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Rochester Regional Health

September 30, 2021 - 4:52pm

mayoexec_1.pngThe chief medical officer at Rochester Regional Health today said that due to nursing home admission limitations as many as 80 patients who are ready to be transferred to long-term care facilities or rehabilitation centers are stuck in the system’s hospitals.

“There are, on any given day, in our … hospitals, a combined 60 to 80 patients in this category,” Dr. Rob Mayo said. “So, it is a considerable number.”

RRH is an integrated health care system with nine member hospitals, including United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia.

Mayo (photo at right) took part in a video press conference with Adam Bello, Monroe County executive; Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County commissioner of public health, and Dr. Michael J. Apostolakos, chief medical officer at University of Rochester Medical Center Strong Memorial and Highland Hospitals.

The session focused on the vaccine mandate imposed upon health care workers by Gov. Kathy Hochul and its effect on staffing at hospitals and nursing homes, as well as the situation in schools and delays in receiving care at hospital emergency rooms.

Mayo said RRH is working with the other health systems and community partners to alleviate the hospital-to-nursing-home logjam.

“What we do is continue to care for them, and we continue to look for options,” he said. “We work with our partner home care agencies … but, by and large, it is a challenge to do this.”

All three doctors emphasized that employee vaccination rates at their hospitals are very high – up to 99 percent at RRH and URMC locations – but acknowledged that lower levels at nursing homes are causing significant problems.

“Among nursing home staff not all staff fit into the same categories,” Mendoza offered. “When you look at the positions, the nurse practitioners who work in the nursing homes, the vaccination rate is like among other positions – upwards of 99 percent.

“What we’re seeing among other staff, particularly the nurse aides and CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants) and so forth, their vaccination rate more appropriately parallels the demographic from which they are representing. So, if many live in the city (of Rochester), their vaccination rate as a population is roughly the same as the vaccination rate that we’re seeing in the city.”

Mendoza called it “an absolute concern … that represents a disparity in care and health access that we’ve been seeing all across this pandemic. It is a very important problem.”

He said nursing homes are limiting the number of admissions from the hospitals in order to “keep appropriate ratios in place.”

“Right now, unfortunately for the rest of the health care system, they’ve decreased their admissions, which is creating a bottleneck, if you will, across the entire system.”

Apostolakos said the nursing home issue has resulted in the inability to transfer 55 patients in the URMC system – almost 10 percent of its inpatient capacity.

“… those patients are still taking up acute care beds in our acute care hospital,” he said. “It is causing a significant percentage of our beds to be taken up and, therefore, making it more difficult to get patients through the emergency room and into our hospital, and to accept transfers into our facility.”

 HIGH PERCENTAGE ARE VACCINATED

Mayo said that as of Monday, more than 99 percent of RRH employees are vaccinated, with less than 1 percent placed on administrative leave because of their unvaccinated status. He also said that a small percentage requested religious or medical exemptions – and those were granted in compliance with New York State regulations.

Those employees who do not qualify for an exemption and refuse to get vaccinated will be terminated sometime in the morning of Oct. 3 (this Sunday), he reported.

“Despite the successes with this vaccination mandate and regulation, we do have understaffed areas,” he said. “Many people are working overtime. We have patients in our hospitals awaiting discharge and we pleased to participate in a community-wide effort to create solutions for hospitals and for nursing homes … so we can all move patients into their appropriate environments as quickly as possible.”

He also said RRH is participating in efforts to managing strains on pediatric practices and the impact of COVID in schools.

Apostolakos said that more than 96 percent of URMC employees have been vaccinated, another 3 percent received religious exemptions and less than 1 percent elected to resign their positions.

“The not so good news,” he said, is the increasing number of COVID cases.

Sixty-nine patients at Strong have COVID, with 15 of those on a ventilator, he said, and another 84 are at other URMC facilities.

“That number continues to increase,” he said, adding that most of those patients are unvaccinated.

He pleaded with the community “to get vaccinated for yourself, for your family, for your community and for our health care workers that have been under stress and strain for the past 18 months.”

Bello said 93.8 percent of workers at Monroe County Hospital are vaccinated, with 61 employees not vaccinated, seven receiving exemptions and one who has resigned.

He said the unvaccinated workers have been placed on unpaid administrative leave for three months, but would be welcomed back if fully vaccinated.

The county executive said employees are working under stressful conditions and that he was disheartened to see people protesting in front of hospitals.

“The patients inside are sick; they’re seeking care. The health care providers are working long hours, under considerable stress. Neither patients nor health care workers deserve the disdain and anger that’s being targeted towards them and where they work,” he said.

MENDOZA: STUDENT ILLNESS INCREASES

Mendoza spoke about situation in schools, noting that they are seeing an unseasonal increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus or RSV, which causes mild symptoms in school age kids but can be serious for infants, toddlers and older adults.

Also, a growing number of school age children who have contracted COVID-19, he said.

Per state Department of Health guidelines, the only authorized tests are the NAT and PCR tests, he said, and not the rapid antigen tests due to Monroe County’s “high” transmission status.

He said health officials are working with schools to increase testing capabilities, a procedure that is also taking place in Genesee County.

“Do not send your sick children to school. Make sure they are properly masking and follow all of the other safety protocols in place … and if they are eligible, please get them vaccinated,” he said.

EXPECT DELAYS IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM

Both Apostolakos and Mayo said that for the immediate future, delays in the emergency rooms, waiting rooms and even some urgent care centers are inevitable.

The emergency department has a triage process, with priority is given to patients depending upon severity of illness or injury, Apostolakos said, “so the wait could be several hours.”

“We encourage our patients to call their primary care providers to seek health care at urgent care if their illness is less severe,” he advised.

He also said URMC is pausing temporarily some elective surgeries where hospital stays are necessary to ensure there is enough space for patients admitted with COVID and other non-COVID illnesses.

Mayo said RRH emergency rooms and urgent care facilities have been crowded over the last couple weeks.

“It’s disappointing to acknowledge … but waits in our emergency rooms can be long; they can be several hours,” he said.

Many outpatient services have been unaffected, he said, but RRH hospitals are limiting some elective surgeries, primarily at Rochester General Hospital.

September 30, 2021 - 12:11pm

Vaccination rates for United Memorial Medical Center employees are right around the 90 percent mark as hospitals and other facilities around the state contend with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Sept. 27th mandate requiring health care workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

According to statistics on the New York State COVID-19 vaccine website -- www.covid19vaccine.health.ny.gov, 94 percent of workers at UMMC’s Bank Street campus have been vaccinated compared to 89 percent at UMMC’s North Street campus.

UMMC is part of Rochester Regional Health System, which is showing a 90 percent vaccination rate for all of its employees – a percentage point less than data for Strong Memorial Hospital University of Rochester Medical Center.

(Watch for an update later today).

The percentage of hospital workers vaccinated in the Finger Lakes Region is 90 percent, with Genesee and Orleans counties at 89 and Wyoming County at 90.

These figures are calculated from the number of hospital staff eligible for vaccination and the number completing the recommended series of a given COVID-19 vaccine product (e.g. 2 doses of the 2-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 1-dose of the 1-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine), per the state website.

Statistics for nursing homes and assisted living facilities reveal the following for Genesee County (as reported by the individual facilities as of Sept. 27):

Nursing homes:

  • Le Roy Village Green – Residents’ complete dose: 92.7 percent; Staff complete dose: 83 percent.
  • Premier Genesee – Residents’ complete dose: 90.3 percent; Staff complete dose: 92.4 percent.
  • The Grand – Residents’ complete dose: 91.4 percent; Staff complete dose: 90.7 percent.

Assisted living:

  • Genesee Adult Home – Residents’ complete dose: 94.5 percent; Staff complete dose: 72.7 percent.
  • Le Roy Manor -- Residents’ complete dose: 97.2 percent; Staff compete dose: 92.3 percent.
  • The Manor House, Batavia – Residents’ complete dose: 100 percent; Staff compete dose: 93.6 percent.

Calls seeking comment from the administrators at the nursing homes listed above were not returned at the time of the posting of this story. Samantha Vagg is the administrator at Le Roy Village Green, Sharon Zeams is the administrator at Premier Genesee and Timothy Srye is the administrator at The Grand.

All told in Genesee County, skilled nursing facilities vaccination rates as of Sept. 28 were 94 percent for residents and 90 percent for workers and adult care facilities vaccination rates as of Sept. 28 were 97 percent for residents and 87 percent for workers.

REPORT FROM GOV. HOCHUL

On Wednesday, Hochul said that 92 percent of hospital and nursing home workforce have gotten at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, and 89 percent of adult care facilities employees have received at least one dose.

Based on total number of hospital employees in the state, an 8 percent unvaccinated rate equates to more than 41,000 who have not received at least one dose. As a result, the governor’s staff is monitoring the impact of her mandate, with the possibility of bringing in health care workers from out of the state or even from other countries.

The Genesee County Legislature, along with about seven other counties in the region, has sent a letter to the governor asking for her to include a coronavirus testing option for health care workers.

“I fully support the legislature’s position … to ensure that we didn’t have any lapse in service,” County Manager Matt Landers said today. “It’s a common sense, logical approach to the situation at hand. Obviously, we’d like to see as many people vaccinated as possible, but at the end of the day, we can’t jeopardize the care of our sick and our elderly because of the mandate.”

DATA FOR GENERAL PUBLIC

Latest statistics (as of Sept. 29) also show that 56.1 percent of Genesee County residents age 12 and over are fully vaccinated, which is less than the 63.6 percent for all New York state residents.

By zip code (as of Sept. 28), these are the percentages of those fully vaccinated:

  • Batavia – 50.4
  • East Bethany – 38.8
  • Alexander – 44
  • Basom – 44.4
  • Oakfield – 45.3
  • Byron – 48
  • Corfu – 49.6
  • Darien Center – 51.1
  • Pavilion – 53.8
  • Bergen – 55.3
  • Le Roy – 56.5
  • Stafford – 65.5
  • Elba – 73.6

In the Finger Lakes Region, the total number of people with at least one vaccine dose has increased over the past week by 7,695 to 760,752, and the total number of people with the complete vaccine series has increased over the past week by 5,590 to 706,944.

BOOSTER SHOT STATUS LOCALLY

Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public health educator, reported that the Genesee Orleans Health Department has set up clinics for those eligible for booster shots, beginning next week.

“Boosters are offered during the regular clinic day with the only difference being registration is required for boosters,” she said.

The booster shot schedule, for those 65 and older who became fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at least six months ago:

  • Oct. 6 from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m., Genesee County Health Department, 3837 West Main Street Rd., Batavia;
  • Oct. 7, from 12:45 to 3:30 p.m., Orleans County Health Department, 14016 State Route 31, Suite 101, Albion.

These shots are administered by appointment only.

September 21, 2021 - 9:14pm

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Updated: 7 a.m.:

The City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee tonight approved the site plan of the Healthy Living campus, a $30 million joint venture of United Memorial Medical Center (Rochester Regional Health) and the GLOW YMCA on East Main Street.

The tally was 3-1 in favor of the layout, with Ed Flynn, Rebecca Cohen and John Ognibene casting “yes” votes and David Beatty voting “no.” The committee’s monthly meeting took place at the City Hall Council Board Room.

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Related story: Planning committee member sees Healthy Living campus site plan as 'missed opportunity'

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“We’re extremely satisfied. We listened to what the concerns were and we made adjustments. I think they were fair and we were fair,” said GLOW YMCA Chief Executive Officer Rob Walker.

Project Consultant David Ciurzynski and representatives of the Clark Patterson Lee architectural/engineering firm had appeared before the PDC two times prior to tonight’s meeting.

Over the course of lengthy deliberations, a few changes requested by the committee were made, most notably the removal of an entrance/exit on Summit Street and removal of parking spaces in the area just east of Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council, on a parcel where the YMCA currently sits.

Walker said developers surrendered about 30 parking spots to create more green space.

“When you’re in business, we want those spots, but out of respect for the process, we negotiated,” he said.

On the Summit Street issue, he said, “We met with the Summit Street (Neighborhood) Association and with a number of residents and we listened and we said, OK.”

“The traffic flow is going to work just fine as we have an exit on Washington (Avenue) and an exit on Bank (Street).”

Ciurzynski said the updated site plan shows the Summit Street exit removal and parking space adjustment, adding that there are no plans to build a wall or put up additional trees in the space between GO Art! and the new YMCA building.

PDC member Ed Flynn said the board received a letter from GO Art! stating its support of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative project as long as there was no wall.

Beatty then mentioned a site plan presented by Clark Patterson Lee and sent to Gregory Hallock, GO Art! executive director, was different from the final plan. He said he had hoped the PDC would have been able to see that document.

Ciurzynski said that was a previous drawing, calling it “much more elaborate than what we have and we’re not moving forward with that because of budget reasons.”

“The plan that you have (now) is the plan that we’re moving forward with,” he said, adding that the current plan has appropriate buffering on that back side (of GO Art!). “I understand that he (Hallock) may desire something more (but) technically it’s not his property. We have to be as good neighbors as possible, but we have to also manage our budget.”

The PDC reviewed the State Environmental Quality Review paperwork and determined no adverse impact. It did advise Ciurzynski, however, to make sure the GO Art! building is protected during construction as it is an historic structure. Ciurzynski said he would send the final site plan to the State Historic Preservation Office.

With the committee’s approval in hand, the timeline becomes much clearer.

Ciurzynski said construction documents should be complete by the late fall or early winter, and then bids will be solicited.

“Hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll start seeing some (activity), with Cary Hall coming down. And start getting the site prepped and ready for construction in earnest starting in the spring,” he said, noting that the entire project will take about 20 months, including 14 to 16 months on the main two-story, 69,420-square-foot building.

“We’re trying to get everything done as quickly as possible so we can move in and take down the (existing) YMCA,” he said. “Start construction in the spring when the weather breaks, get the building up, get everything moved over into there from the existing Y to the new Y – get that operational – and then we can start looking at taking down the old Y and developing that site.”

He acknowledged the PDC’s opposition to the amount of parking on Main Street.

“They didn’t like the look of it (and) they wanted more of an urban park environment, so we sort of split the difference,” he said. “We gave up some very significant parking for our membership but we will find ways to work around that because it was important to the Planning & Development Committee.

“They’re looking out for the city; trying to make sure they can strike a balance. We’re a partner with the city, so we want to make sure that we can strike that balance that works for everybody.”

Even with the reduction of parking spots, the campus will accommodate about 200 cars. Walker said that hospital staff would be able to continue to park in the City Centre Mall parking lot.

As previously reported on The Batavian, the Healthy Living Campus will replace the current YMCA, and will feature YMCA amenities such as gymnasium, pool, locker rooms, multipurpose rooms, exercise rooms and a community living (common) area.

It also will have 10,000 square feet for the hospital’s Healthy Living (diabetes awareness and education) program as well as a medical clinic on the second floor as a teaching unit for medical residents, and space for RRH’s Baby Café, a breastfeeding program run by lactation specialists who offer education and support to any pregnant woman or breastfeeding mom in the community at no charge.

Graham to Build 'Infill' Addition

In other action, the PDC approved a site plan submitted by Graham Mfg. to construct a 2,500-square foot one-story infill addition on the south side of the industrial complex at 4-12 Howard St.

Chris Howell, facilities manager at Graham Mfg., said the company wishes to put in a metrology lab in the new space for non-destructive testing and a stockroom -- “and to do those things well we need a separate area, which is temperature controlled and where it is clean.”

Currently, the firm’s welding and grinding operations are integrated with this kind of testing, he said, and separating those processes will improve the metrology and non-destructive testing.

The plan also is subject to review by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals due to the entire building’s coverage area on the lot being more than the permitted 40 percent.

Previously: City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee says 'no' to Summit Street access for Healthy Living Campus

Comments
August 24, 2021 - 9:14am
posted by Press Release in UMMC, Rochester Regional Health, news, covid-19, coronavirus.

Press release:

Due to the rapid transmission of the Delta variant and increased positive COVID-19 cases, Rochester Regional Health will be re-implementing a stricter visitation policy effectiveWednesday, August 25 at 9 a.m. at the following locations:

  • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital
  • Rochester General Hospital
  • Unity Hospital
  • United Memorial Medical Center
  • Rochester Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Linden Oaks Ambulatory Surgery Center
  • Westfall Ambulatory Surgery Center

New York State Department of Health continues to require masks inside healthcare facilities this includes visitors and patients. Visitors must have their temperature checked and be screened for symptoms when entering any of these facilities.

No visitation allowed 

  • COVID-19 positive patients 
  • Emergency department patients
  • Cancer infusion center patients
  • Only exceptions: pediatric patients, labor and delivery patients, patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and cognitive impairments including dementia and patients at the end-of-life (see below)

Hospital visitation policy

  • Each COVID negative patient can have one visitor at a time at the bedside 
  • Different visitors can visit the patient throughout the day as long as it is limited to one at a time
  • Visitors must be 12 years of age or older
  • Labor and Delivery (Obstetrics)
    • One visitor at a time
    • One support person (in addition to a visitor) is allowed at the beside at all times
  • Pediatrics
    • Two supports persons and one visitor
    • One visitor in pediatric ED
    • If the patient is COVID positive, one support person and one visitor
  • Patients undergoing ambulatory procedures or surgeries
    • One visitor only for pre-procedure (surgery) and post-procedure (surgery)
  • Patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and cognitive impairments including dementia
    • One support person may be present on-site at a time in the emergency room or during hospitalization
    • An additional visitor may also be with the patient during hospital-designated visiting hours 
  •  Behavioral Health inpatients
    • There is no change to the current visitation rules for Behavioral Health Inpatients
      • Two visitors during site-specific hours
  • End of life patients (appropriate PPE will be required if the patient is COVID positive):

o   Up to two visitors at the bedside at a time 

o   One support person (in addition to visitors) is allowed at the bedside; clergy are not considered a visitor

o   Social distancing must be maintained

Hospital daily visitation hours 

  • Rochester General Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Unity Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic:  12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital: 12 p.m.  – 8 p.m.
  • United Memorial Medical Center: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. 
  • Behavioral Health Facilities – call specific site for hours
Comments
August 23, 2021 - 1:12pm

In a major announcement today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reporting the approval of the first COVID-19 vaccine – the vaccine known as the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine.

It now will be marketed as Comirnaty for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The vaccine also continues to be available under emergency use authorization (EUA), including for individuals 12 through 15 years of age and for the administration of a third dose in certain immunocompromised individuals.

In response to this news, Edward E. Walsh, M.D., head of Infectious Diseases at Rochester General Hospital, and Ann Falsey, M.D., professor of Infectious Diseases and co-director of the Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit at URMC and RRH Infectious Disease Physician, took questions from media members via a Zoom call at noon.

Following is that question-and-answer session:

Q. How does this process work exactly to get to this decision made by the FDA? What does it take to get full approval?

A. Walsh: Essentially, it is to collect longer timeframe for safety data, as well as increased amount of data on efficacy. The EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) was approved essentially after 2 ½ months and this is with data that was submitted in June, so it includes data out to six months and it’s that kind of longer-term data that is required for full approval.

Q. Do you believe that this will change public confidence in people who are hesitant in getting the shot, and explain what Rochester Regional (Health) is really hoping that this could change for public perception … to show that vaccine really works now?

A. Walsh: I think for some people this may be important. It’s not clear at this point if it will come to pass that a significant number of people who are hesitant to get vaccinated will now do so. There have been surveys done … which suggest that there is a significant number of people who have been hesitant will step forward now that it has received full approval. But will have to wait and see if that actually happens.

The second aspect of this is that apparently this will make it a lot easier for organizations, including the healthcare organizations, to mandate vaccination as a requirement for working. Which is a very controversial and much debated in public spaces position. It apparently will allow that to move forward more easily.

Q. What do you see as the fallout to that (noting there is a small, vocal group of healthcare workers that said they won’t get the vaccine?

A. We’ve already seen that happen in certain institutions that have made it mandatory to be vaccinated, even during the period in which it was covered by the EUA. I imagine that there will be somewhat similar vocal outcry by some individuals and possibly groups. We’ll just have to see.

I can tell you that in the past, with influenza vaccine mandates this has been a struggle prior to potentially mandating flu vaccines in healthcare environments. Only about 75 percent of people would become vaccinated each year; once it was mandated, we now exceed 90 percent, often reaching 95 percent. So, it may allow us to move forward.

Q. (Could you address) the hesitancy of some folks, who say I’d like to see this get approved by the FDA, and now were at that point?

A. Falsey: “Basically the proof is in the pudding; We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I, took, have had numerous conversations with vaccine-hesitant people, and some raise very reasonable concerns that it’s a brand new vaccine (that) came along very rapidly and want to see more data and the FDA fully approved it. I, personally, might say I don’t think you’re assessing risk/benefit properly (but) those are reasonable concerns from reasonable people.

But, I do hope that this approval and this review of this safety data, will will give them the confidence to get what is a safe vaccine and get themselves protected.

Q. How does this approval help public confidence … for some of those people who were on the fence?

A. Falsey: I hope it will help a lot. There are some people who are anti-vaccine, and no matter what the FDA does they won’t trust it or believe it. But there is a group of people … who are just nervous and this is the reassurance that they will need. I hope it goes a long way.

Walsh; I would echo that hope that it does go a long way. I think people need to realize that these vaccines were scrutinized by a very large number of individuals and coming from different backgrounds to assess their safety. This discussions that take place are very long, they review an enormous amount of data. One thing that people should realize that following rollout vaccine in late November, essentially early December, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has been very meticulous in tracking side effects now for essentially nine months. And they have been able to uncover any of the concerns than anyone would have with these vaccines. So, … it’s including data that extends out nine months to the general public and for a year we are now seeing in our vaccine study here at RGH (Rochester General Hospital) with the Pfizer vaccine group … we’re seeing the now out at a year.

Q. Do you foresee that Moderna, Johnson & Johnson (approval) will be coming up soon?

A. Falsey: For a full licensure, you do need six months of safety data. Moderna had its EUA shortly after Pfizer, so I would think they would be next up to become fully approved … J&J will take a little bit longer.

Q. Is this a normal timeframe for vaccines to be approved or was this hastily done?

A. Falsey: It was sped up quite a bit, but no steps were not done. All the phases, all the safety were done, it’s just that it was a huge public health crises and everyone was working non-stop. Things were done rapidly,

Walsh: The preliminary scientific basis for this vaccine was developed over 10 years prior to the pandemic. That’s an enormous amount of work that normally is rolled into how long it takes to make a vaccine. That whole process was done prior to the pandemic even starting; it was a real head start here.

The process of going through Phase 1, Phase 2 and then Phase 3 trials was speeded up but iwas primarily in the Phase 1 period which normally would take from six months to perhaps even a year. Through a very safe mechanism, you can make those go faster; because of the pandemic, they had to. As far as the Phase 3 study goes, because of the pandemic, the decision was to monitor the effectiveness of this vaccine – and all of the vaccines -- in real time rather than to simply say, ‘Let’s just analyze this data at the end of the year.’ They said, ‘Let’s analyze this data week by week to see how long it would take to demonstrate efficacy.’ And when you demonstrate 95 percent efficacy against all infection and 100 percent against severe disease at 2 ½ months, you have data that says, ‘Let’s move this forward in the face of a pandemic killing .. over 500,000 people.

Q. As far as efficacy against the Delta variant, some studies show that Moderna has a stronger efficacy than the Pfizer. Is this just a timeframe thing that Pfizer is being approved before Moderna?

A. Falsey: “I’m not specifically aware of which study you are discussing. A lot of the global data that looks at real world effectiveness of these vaccines as we look through the different variants, they all look very effective against severe disease and death … The full approval process really has more to do with safety. So, Pfizer finished their study and applied for EUA, and had a little bit of a jump there, and that’s why they have six months of safety data first, and they received their full licensure. I am sure Moderna will be along quickly.

Walsh: … for six months we’ve seen the data, and the efficacy seems to be very similar. Real world data from various states in U.S., suggested that the Moderna vaccine was holding up a little bit better than the Pfizer vaccine, but not in terms of hospitalization, severe disease and mortality. It had to do with whether or not a minor or mild infection would occur. And these are relatively small studies …

One of the problems with collecting data in the real world as opposed to an actual study, where you’re monitoring every person, is that it really requires people to come forward with minor illnesses and mild illnesses, and it also requires states to report all their illnesses, for instance, hospitalizations, mortality, and that is not always done. So, it’s a little difficult at times. I think at this point, I’d argue that there’s probably not much difference between these two vaccines in terms of their benefit.

Q. Do you hear from their patients that this is something that they care about – about FDA approval?

A. Falsey: From a select few. The majority of patients either fall into the category of vaccine enthusiasts versus … those who just aren’t going to get it. But, there are a group of people that this a step that gives them confidence. They are worried that these are new vaccines and they want full approval and review by the FDA. There are people that this is meaningful.

Q. How instrumental was URMC and Rochester Regional was in the studies for Pfizer?

A. Walsh: This town – URMC (University of Rochester Medical Center) and RRH -- provided Rochester the opportunity to really participate in cutting edge of development of the Pfizer vaccine … and also work locally with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as well as the Astrazeneca vaccine and the concept of mixing different vaccine strategies with different vaccines.

So, Rochester, the University and RRH have contributed an enormous amount of effort to push this forward. In a certain sense, I will say that among the infectious disease community, to a large extent, … it was essentially like getting drafted into the army. We had to stop doing all of the normal things that we do and focus on essentially one disease and one illness.

Q. What regulations did this vaccine exactly have to pass … to be fully approved by the FDA?

A. Walsh: I can’t give you every detail that is required … I’ve not sat through committees that go through this process. But, as I mentioned before, it requires full vetting from all of the data from study subjects – and there are 42,000 of them in Phase 3 study. If you looked at all the data from those as well as the data from the Phase 1 and Phase 2 studies, which were much smaller, I think specifically, looking at safety data. In addition, they do have access to all of the safety data that has been developed after the EUA rollout in December. That information is dependent upon individual reporting, whether it be physician or people in the community who have been vaccinated. Whereas the study subject data of 42,000 individuals, that data is very meticulously collected … very granular, very detailed and highly scrutinized.

Q. Why do you believe it wasn’t approved fully for those 12-15 (years old)?

A. Walsh: Again, this has to do with timing. The data for 16 and up, or 17-18 and up was part of that first phase of the Phase 3 studies were once that starts moving, they went into 12-16 groups, so that is somewhat behind so we don’t have the data yet … to be fully approved.

Q. What do you think this says for the future of mRNA technology?

A. Walsh: I think it opens up opportunities in many areas where we have been unsuccessful in developing vaccines. There are many diseases that we do not have effective vaccines, or have not event attempted to look into the possibility of vaccines -- especially for viruses, It also opens up the possibility of an effective strategy to improve our existing vaccines, such as influenza. In good years, we’re happy to see 50 percent effectiveness … If we could get very high degree of efficacy it could really do a lot of public health good. I think you can make the same argument for a lot of diseases for which we really haven’t pushed hard for vaccines.

This technology may be very effective. And those studies will be slowly starting … we’re obviously still mired down in the pandemic and the problems with that issue. Boost the doses, and the variants of coronavirus that may arise and have to be dealt with. At some point, this technology will be applied to other vaccines.

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Update: 4 p.m. in response to comment below:

Under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, companies like Pfizer and Moderna have total immunity from liability if something unintentionally goes wrong with their vaccines. And, although the vaccines have been approved by the FDA, people can't sue that government agency as it has what is known as "sovereign immunity."

July 21, 2021 - 10:49am

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“Explore (the) reduction of parking and increase green space. Goal: no parking.”

With that note to himself penciled in along the border of a sketch design showing a proposed parking lot where the Genesee Area Family YMCA currently sits, Michael Mistriner is going back to the drawing board in an attempt to zero in on a final site plan for the Healthy Living Campus project.

Mistriner, principal architect for Clark Patterson Lee in Buffalo, and David Ciurzynski, project manager, appeared before the City of Batavia Planning & Development Committee on Tuesday night, presenting their ideas of how the $30 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative venture should look upon completion sometime in 2023.

Members of the PDC, while thoroughly impressed with the design of the building that would house a new Genesee Area Family YMCA and medical offices affiliated with Rochester Regional Health and United Memorial Medical Center, weren’t totally on board with other aspects of the site plan. Specifically, the lack of green space along Main Street and a proposed entrance/exit into the campus from Summit Street.

The scope of the project calls for razing three buildings on East Main Street – the existing YMCA, a medical office building (former Cary Hall) and a maintenance building. The proposed new facility will include the two-story, 69,420-square-foot building, off-street parking, new access point from Summit Street and site work/landscaping throughout the complex.

All of the parcels involved have been rezoned from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial).

PARKING VERSUS GREEN SPACE

Ciurzynski, Mistriner and UMMC President Dan Ireland indicated that their intention was to balance the amount of parking around the facility with green space, contending that additional parking would be necessary to accommodate the anticipated increase in business.

The current site plan does show some green space closer to Main Street, backed by a hedgerow to screen that from a 50-space parking lot that is next to the Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council building and bumps up against the east wall of the Office for the Aging building.

“This (the green space) comes out as a flat surface and you can see people exercising (in a rendering) so the idea is we want to get out of the building; get on the street and really take advantage of that and building a program around it,” Mistriner said.

The site plan also shows a walkway between the new YMCA/UMMC facility and the Main Street parking area.

“We’re in talks with the GO ART! people to find out how we can utilize the space to activate the music courtyard that they have there and give us a nice visual,” Ciurzynski said. “We want to encourage activity between the two buildings … with hopes that something in the future could go here.”

Planner David Beatty said he liked the idea of green space there, but suggested that it be increased at the expense of eliminating some of the parking. It also was noted that in a Commercial zone, there are no minimum requirements for parking.

BEATTY: MORE OF THE GREAT OUTDOORS

“You have a new building … and we have some minimal ideas about outdoor space,” he said. “You talk about healthy outdoors, well there’s not that many outdoor spaces. So, that’s one of my basic problems about the site."

Beatty said he didn’t see the space being created by the removal of the existing YMCA as being fully utilized, and that prevents residents from getting the most benefit from what is supposed to be a “healthy living” setting.

“Right now, you’ve got little spaces, outdoor spaces, and you’ve got parking lots,” he added.

PDC Member Rebecca Cohen agreed with Beatty, adding that as it currently stands, the campus “doesn’t look like it’s functional.”

Mistriner said he understood where they were was going and drew lines on the design drawing that would expand the green space farther north, about halfway into the proposed parking area.

Later, as they concluded the review and had persuaded Mistriner to rethink the layout, Beatty said, “Ideally, I don’t want any parking there.”

“Outdoor space – it’s a huge opportunity for your facility,” Beatty said.

Ciurzynski replied, “We’ll just have to finish our study on the parking to see what … You have to understand that a significant amount of that parking space will be taken up during regular business hours for the clinic that is on the second floor. We’ve got to balance all of that out.”

IS SUMMIT STREET ACCESS NECESSARY?

PDC members Ed Flynn and Cohen said they questioned the need for an entrance/exit driveway from Summit Street, which would use an open area owned by UMMC, located between two houses on the west side of the street. Plans call for landscaping and buffering with trees the driveway.

Cohen mentioned the amount of vehicle traffic on the street, considering that St. Joseph’s School and Resurrection Parish are on the east side of the road, and also pedestrian traffic of pupils from that school and the Batavia Middle School on Ross Street.

Ciurzynski said a traffic study showed that an access point from Summit is vital to the flow of traffic in and out of the campus, giving motorists an option other than Bank Street, Washington Avenue and (the one-way) Wiard Street. He said he didn’t believe it would interfere with school traffic.

“We would hope that most of this traffic coming out onto Summit Street would be making a right-hand turn whereas the school drop-off is more on the east side of the road, so they should be passing in opposite directions,” he explained.

In any event, before a Summit Street access point would become reality, the residents in that area would have to be contacted about the proposal and a public hearing would have to be held.

Cohen said she thought the project, overall, is “fantastic” but her biggest concern was “integrating it seamlessly into the community – making it walkable, making it more available, and not just a big block in the middle of our downtown.”

LIGHTING UP WIARD STREET

Earlier, Cohen brought up the issue of adequate lighting along Wiard Street, an area that she said “traditionally is a little dicey at night.”

Ciurzynski responded by saying that plans are to place wall lighting on the east side of the new building to illuminate the street, while not having lights shine on adjacent residential properties.

The consultants opened the review by providing samples of the building elements – brick, limestone, extensive use of glass, sunscreens and other environmentally friendly materials that wash easily and also complement the colors and designs of existing buildings in that downtown area. They also said they considered the height of adjacent buildings in their design of the Healthy Living Campus building to ensure a uniform look.

Ciurzynski said he was concerned about the delay in completing the State Environmental Quality Review, which must be done before a contract with the state Department of Health can be signed to release $7.5 million in grant funding for the UMMC portion of the project.

“If we don’t get the SEQR, we don’t finalize our contract and we can’t start drawing funds against that,” he said. “We really need to start drawing funds against that because we need to start some of the demolition and we still have design to pay for and things like that.”

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall said that since it looks as though the architects were getting closer to a final, approved site plan, that the environmental review could be completed soon, possibly by the PDC’s next meeting on Aug. 17.

Primary sources of funding are $4.075 million in DRI money for the YMCA and the DOH Transformation 2 grant for $7.5 million.

“The balance of it is other foundations and other fundraising that we have done in the area,” Ciurzynski said. “We will have to do conventional financing to build the project, so anytime you do a project like this and you have funding sources that are relying upon you spending the money, and getting reimbursed – as well as public support -- you have to have that money somehow in place for construction.”

He said that more than $11 million has been raised through fundraising efforts thus far.

“We’re getting there; we’re doing really well,” he said.

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Photo at top: Michael Mistriner, left; Dan Ireland and David Ciurzynski present Healthy Living Campus site plan to City Planning & Development Committee, from left, Meg Chilano, Doug Randall, Rebecca Cohen, Matt Gray, Ed Flynn, Duane Preston, David Beatty and John Ognibene; photos at bottom: Mistriner and Ciurzynski; rendering of the building; overhead site plan with Main Street at the bottom of the drawing. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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July 13, 2021 - 2:23pm

Submitted photo and press release:

Rochester Regional Health is expanding its partnership with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), the nation’s largest medical school.  Rochester Regional Health will become the medical school’s largest clinical campus.

This partnership will enable Rochester Regional to dramatically increase clinical rotations and feature locations in addition to United Memorial Medical Center in Batavia where its program began.

Now, as part of this 10-year agreement between Rochester Regional Health and LECOM, approximately 100 third- and fourth-year students will be on clinical rotation across the health system each month.

“This partnership will offer remarkable opportunities for LECOM students to gain exceptional, hands-on training in a variety of settings with a nationally recognized leader in integrated health care,” said John Ferretti, D.O., LECOM president and CEO.

“Further, with such a large number of our students entering Rochester Regional Health’s clinical rotation program at facilities across western New York, LECOM will be furthering its goal of improving healthcare for residents and communities in underserved areas.”

“LECOM is a great partner and we are honored to expand our partnership,” said Eric Bieber, M.D., president and CEO of Rochester Regional Health. “As an integrated health care delivery system, these students will gain invaluable experience from Rochester Regional Health’s clinical teams, as they move through different areas of medicine.

"This collaboration will strengthen our network of care and help Rochester Regional solidify its position as a leader in healthcare locally, regionally, and nationally.”

Medical school graduates often continue their post-graduate training and establish residency in the geographic area they trained. Rochester Regional Health currently offers 23 residency and fellowship programs for medical students post-graduation.

The health system is continuing to expand on those programs with multiple new residencies and fellowships under development.  

“There is a shortage of primary care physicians throughout the country and LECOM produces more primary care physicians than any other medical school in the country,” said Richard Alweis, M.D., associate chief medical officer of Education for Rochester Regional Health. “By expanding this partnership, we are investing in our community and its healthcare needs.”

“We are thrilled to partner with Rochester Regional Health to offer critical clinical education for our medical students,” said Richard Terry, D.O., associate dean of Academic Affairs, LECOM at Elmira.

“This collaborative agreement offers a unique opportunity for students from the Rochester area, the Southern Tier and Western New York to pursue their collegiate premedical training with local colleges and universities affiliated with LECOM, and then complete their clinical training with the Rochester Regional Health system.

"This agreement will also secure a steady, locally trained supply of future physicians for the greater Rochester region, as well as all of Upstate New York.”

For more on Rochester Regional Health’s residency programs visit Residency.RochesterRegional.org.

Top photo: The woman lying down is Tammy LeSane; on the right is Robert Russo, DPM, Podiatry specialist; and resident in the middle is Kristopher Zainer, DPM.

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May 14, 2021 - 3:00pm

Interest in a proposed campground on Perry Road in the Town of Pavilion is high, according to the consultant working with a LeRoyan looking to develop 20 to 30 acres of a 94-acre parcel.

“We have about 60 people who have signed letters of intent to rent campsites already,” said David Ciurzynski of Ciurzynski Consulting LLC, of Attica.

Ciurzynski represented Jesse Coots of Le Roy at Thursday night’s Genesee County Planning Board meeting via Zoom videoconferencing.

Planners recommended approval of a special use permit for the 346-site campground and recreation area at 10156 Perry Road, but included stipulations involving mitigation of adverse impact upon wetlands there and obtaining a stormwater pollution prevention permit from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Developers are addressing those issues, Ciurzynski said.

“We’re really excited about this project. We’ve completed the engineering study and wetland delineation, which has been submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers and the DEC,” he said. “Once we get the special use permit, we’ll get into full engineering and be able to complete the stormwater pollution prevention and other elements of the project.”

Ciurzynski said the plan is to start with 100 sites and build out the remainder after campers begin to populate the campground.

Planners asked about water and sewage capabilities, with Ciurzynski stating that the size of the project prohibits holding tanks.

“We’re going to have to do a septic system, with a full leach bed and everything,” he said.

Planning Director Felipe Oltramari responded by stating he hopes the owners have “good luck in finding water” when drilling wells.

Ciurzynski said the preferred option is to put the first 100 sites up against the road to minimize the number of wells required since the Town of Pavilion also has embarked upon its water district project.

“In talking with the supervisor (Rob LaPoint), he would like to get this water district along Perry Road going as well, so we’re hoping our project helps leapfrog that into place so we can use the water from the Pavilion water district instead of having to drill multiple wells,” he said.

Currently, the 94-acre parcel consists of woodland and farm fields, and is zoned Agricultural-Residential.

In other action, planners recommended approval of several other referrals, including:

  • An area variance to change the parking space size for a proposed Rochester Regional Health medical building on Oak Orchard Road in the Town of Batavia;
  • A special use permit for a covered outdoor dining space at the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford;
  • A change in zoning to Commercial for a parcel at 211 E. Main Street to facilitate the development of the GLOW YMCA/United Memorial Medical Center Healthy Living Campus;
  • A site plan for a new liquor store at 9 E. Main St., Corfu;
  • A special use permit, with modification, for a 5-megawatt solar system on Oak Orchard Road, south of the Village of Elba;
  • A special use permit for a hair salon at 1 Farnsworth Ave., Oakfield, on an appointment-only basis.

Previously: Planners expected to consider outdoor dining site at Red Osier, sizeable campground on Perry Road in Pavilion

May 13, 2021 - 1:51pm
posted by Press Release in UMMC, Rochester Regional Health, news, batavia.

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Press release:

Phase one of a two-part modernization project to expand United Memorial Medical Center’s Radiology department is underway.

The nearly $8 million project will add 5,000 square feet to the department, nearly doubling its size, and feature new technology and equipment. The result will be enhanced imaging capabilities that improve the experience for patients, their families and staff.

“One of Rochester Regional Health’s main priorities has been to expand access to care in the Batavia community,” said Eric Bieber, MD, Rochester Regional Health CEO. “That started with the Lipson Cancer Institute and it doesn’t end with the new imaging center.”

When both phases of construction are complete, patients who need imaging services will benefit from:

  • New MRI Suite
  • New 10-bed Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
  • New blood draw station
  • New dressing rooms
  • New, welcoming area and scheduling office
  • New cooling infrastructure supporting UMMC and its growth of services on the main campus

“The department is heading into the future with state-of-the-art technology created with patient comfort in mind and the ability to minimize scan times and improve image quality,” said Barry Rosenberg, MD, United Memorial Medical Center chief of Radiology. 

Philanthropy will be a major source of funding for this project that’s rooted in patient-first care.

“This expansion is a testament to both Rochester Regional and the community’s investment in local healthcare,” said Dan Ireland, president of United Memorial Medical Center. “This project is for you, the community, built by you, with your generous donations and support over the years.”

The first phase of the expansion is scheduled for competition halfway through 2022 and the entire project will be complete by 2024.

Among those taking part in the groundbreaking ceremony, top photo, not in order, were Dan Ireland, Dr. Eric Bieber, Joe Hanss, Dave Hetrick, Amanda Monaco, Amy Craib and Stephanie Guchone.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Dr. Eric Bieber, CEO of Rochester Regional Health

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Dr. Barry Rosenberg, United Memorial Medical Center Chief of Radiology.

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May 12, 2021 - 2:10pm

The Genesee County Planning Board is in for a busy night on Thursday with an agenda featuring 17 referrals, including a proposal to build an outdoor dining space at the Red Osier Landmark Restaurant in Stafford and another to develop a 346-site campground and recreation area on Perry Road in Pavilion.

The meeting will take place at 7 o’clock via Zoom videoconferencing.

Owners Timothy Adams and Steven Foster have submitted a site plan and request for a special use permit to place an outdoor dining pavilion at the rear of the Red Osier property on Route 5.

Plans call for the covered shelter to be set on a 30- by 40-foot concrete pad to the south of the restaurant. The owners also are looking to add a portable 12- by 24-foot manufactured shed for storage and aesthetics, adding that the dumpster will be relocated away from that area and also will be on a concrete pad and fenced in.

Preliminary word is that planning department staff suggests approval of the referral, stating that the proposed pavilion and improvements should pose no significant countywide or intercommunity impact.

Jesse Coots, of Le Roy, submitted a site plan and is asking for a special use permit to create and operate the campground at 10156 Perry Road. The plan calls for building it in two phases, using 20 to 30 acres of a 94-acre parcel that is zoned Agricultural-Residential. Currently, the land consists of woodland and farm fields.

Approval with modification is recommended by planning staff, who are asking the board to require the applicant to provide proof that there will be no adverse impact upon wetlands and to obtain a stormwater permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Other referrals include the following:

  • Rezoning of 211 E. Main St., Batavia, from P-2 (Planned Development) to C-3 (Commercial) for consistency purposes prior to demolition of Cary Hall and eventual construction of the Healthy Living Campus joint venture between the GLOW YMCA and United Memorial Medical Center.

Currently, Cary Hall is not being used. It formerly housed medical offices and, before that, was the home of the McAuley School of Practical Nursing.

County planning staff has determined that the zoning change is not inconsistent with the City of Batavia’s comprehensive plan adopted in 2017 and should go forward.

  • A site plan review of a new liquor store at 9 E. Main St., Corfu, to be owned and operated by Brittany Schafer.

In documents submitted by Schafer, she plans to call the business Brittany’s Booze Barn and be open from the hours of 1 to 8 p.m., hopefully by July 4. It is in a Commercial-Residential District with existing residential space upstairs.

Planning staff recommends approval.

  • A special use permit to develop a 5-megawatt community solar project at 7209 Oak Orchard Road, Elba, just south of Route 262, covering half of a 55-acre parcel owned by CY Properties LLC.

Documents state that NY CDG Genesee I LLC, of Acton, Ontario, Canada, is planning to install about 16,400 solar panels on 200 free standing tracking solar table modules, as well as new electrical equipment, accessories, concrete pads for equipment and new gravel access drive.

The land is zoned Business and Agricultural-Residential.

A letter from LaBella Associates, representing the solar group, indicates that a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement through the Genesee County Economic Development Center will be requested.

County planning staff has determined that since the project will be on prime farm land, the applicant should relocate the portion of the driveway and equipment pad currently proposed through the middle of the field to the edge of the field or amend the decommissioning plan to minimize the impact on the soil.

  • A special use permit request by Tanya Peal to operate a one-chair hair salon in her home at 1 Farnsworth Ave., Oakfield, in a Residential District. Her paperwork indicates that customers will be received on an appointment-only basis and she has room to park four vehicles.

The recommendation of county staff is for approval.

  • An area variance for Rochester Regional Health to modify the size of parking spaces from 10- by 20-feet to 9- by 18-feet at the site of its proposed 140,000-square-foot medical office building at 8103 Oak Orchard Road, Batavia – north of the Thruway exit. The change would increase the number of parking spots from 360 to 432.

Consultants for RRH state that the modification will allow the required amount of onsite parking to be provided, while satisfying the town’s request for an access agreement along the northern boundary of the site. The access requirement reduces slightly the space for parking, resulting in the need to go to a 9 by 18 parking spot configuration.

Planning staff has determined that the proposed variance should pose no significant countywide or intercommunity impact.

May 11, 2021 - 12:41pm
posted by Press Release in news, UMMC, Rochester Regional Health, food service, job fair.

Press release:

On Wednesday, May 26, Rochester Regional Health’s food and nutrition service team will conduct on-site interviews from 1 to 3 p.m. for a wide range of food service positions at United Memorial Medical Center.

Open positions include:

  • Cooks
  • Food Service Associates
  • Food Service Team Leaders
  • Hospitality Office Associates

The organization is hiring individuals with full-time, part-time, and per diem availability.

“People who come to this recruiting event will be able to interview right on-site so we can get to know you and see what position best matches your interests and skills,” said Julie Hamil, senior director of Food & Nutrition Services. “Rochester Regional Health facilities are great places to work and I’m excited to see our team grow!”

The recruiting event will be conducted in compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines. Interviews will be socially distanced and masks are required. 

Rochester Regional Health Job Fair Recruiting Event

Date:  Wednesday, May 26

Time:  1– 3 p.m.

Location:  United Memorial Medical Center / 127 North St., Batavia / Room -- A110

RSVP: Walk-ins are welcome but candidates are encouraged to RSVP using this link.    

Check-in:  Participants will arrive at the hospital’s main lobby and be directed to the interviews.

Questions:  Contact Patrick Vickery at [email protected]

About Rochester Regional Health

It is an integrated health services organization serving the people of Western New York, the Finger Lakes, St. Lawrence County, and beyond. The system includes nine hospitals; primary and specialty practices, rehabilitation centers, ambulatory campuses and immediate care facilities; innovative senior services, facilities and independent housing; a wide range of behavioral health services; and Rochester Regional Health Laboratories and ACM Global Laboratories, a global leader in patient and clinical trials. Rochester Regional Health is the region’s second-largest employer. Learn more at RochesterRegional.org.

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April 27, 2021 - 2:34pm
Video Sponsor

With close to 80 percent of its fundraising goal of $14 million in hand, the principals of the Healthy Living Campus for Downtown Batavia this morning announced the start of a public “community challenge” to bring in an additional $1 million.

“Today, on behalf of the GLOW YMCA, I am excited to announce that we are launching the public phase of the “Transforming Lives” campaign,” said Rob Walker, chief executive officer of the GLOW YMCA. “This campaign will allow the Y to build a Healthy Living Campus in Downtown Batavia, in partnership with Rochester Regional Health’s United Memorial Medical Center.”

The $30 million project, which is a key component of the city’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award from New York State, will integrate services provided by the two entities under one extremely large roof. Construction is slated to begin this fall, with completion anticipated for some time in 2023.

The two-story building will cover a distance starting just east of the current YMCA and extending all the way to Wiard Street. Twenty thousand square feet of space will be available for hospital services and 60,000 square feet of space will be utilized by the YMCA.

Walker, during a 30-minute event for local media, said the YMCA “dedicated” volunteers have raised more than $11 million toward our $14 million fundraising goal.

“With us nearing the goal, we are now here to ask the community for support to help us reach our public phase goal of $1 million,” he said. “In addition, we are excited to share a donor match challenge. With the generous support of Peter Zeliff, we have a community challenge to support the new YMCA. Until September 2021, his support will match dollar-for-dollar all new gifts up to $500,000.”

Zeliff: We Need the Y for the Kids

Contacted by telephone this afternoon, Zeliff, chair of the Genesee County Economic Development Center Board of Directors and developer of the Oakwood Estates housing complex on East Main Street Road, said that in his view, it's all about providing opportunities for youth.

"I’ve lived in this area pretty much all of my life. I was born here and raised here, and I really think that this community needs the Y – mainly for kids," he said. "So, kids can have someplace to go and something to do. I believe in that project and I believe it will be good for Batavia and it will be good for Genesee County."

Zeliff said it is remarkable that $11 million has been raised thus far.

"When we started working on the Y project, myself and a bunch of other people thought that was an awful big ask for Genesee County residents to raise $14 million here. But, we’ve already raised over $11 million and that’s pretty amazing," he said.

Walker said that the timing of the project will “ultimately be determined by completion of the capital campaign.”

He then read a list of the planned services, starting with a state-of-the-art wellness center, indoor pool, group exercise studios, and gymnasium with indoor walking/running track.

Other features include a teaching kitchen, indoor playground, youth spaces, living room, and meeting rooms.

Integrated Services Under One Roof

“Our partnership with UMMC will provide primary care, behavioral health/crisis intervention services, telemedicine integration, cancer prevention outreach services, chronic illness services, and education services all in the same facility,” he said, noting that co-located services will include chronic disease management, rehabilitation, mental health, and community education.

“The new Y is for the children, adults, and families in our community. It will be a place for people from all walks of life to come together, gather and improve the quality of life,” he said.

UMMC President Dan Ireland predicted the Healthy Living Campus will be “a dynamic change to Downtown Batavia.”

“A thoughtful process has been undertaken to determine how to bring the right services that will complement each other,” he said. “So, as we look at our primary care center, which will grow and expand from what we offer today at Batavia Primary Care, it will allow more patient access, but also allow our doctors, our nurses, our resident physicians to leverage the work with the Y and integrate wellness and fitness into the regimens they use to care for patients.

“It’s a perfect match as we try to look holistically at people’s health to be able to then to work with Rob’s team to create ways and pathways for people to continue their journey to a healthier lifestyle.”

Ireland said an emphasis will be on cancer screenings, diabetic care, healthy eating, and education.

“There are a lot of ways to bring that all together, inclusive of our Baby Café, which will help breastfeeding moms – maybe the first time or subsequent times as they’re trying to work through the struggles that some people experience with breastfeeding, as well as leveraging from the childcare services that the YMCA offers for patients who are coming for visits at the hospital,” he explained.

Project Rep: Going for That Urban Feel

David Ciurzynski, design consultant and representative for both organizations, spoke about the look of the building prior to the fundraising appeal.

“We’re trying to bring in elements of the brick and the glass,” he said. “The brick is going to highlight the brick buildings and brick facades that we currently have on Main Street, Batavia – playing homage to the Seymour Building (GO ART! headquarters), which is a historic building. And then we have the glass and the panels, trying to mix of materials that give that urban feel – that modern, bright, fresh look that we want to achieve.”

Ciurzynski also reported on the last week’s initial site plan review by the City of Batavia Planning and Development Committee, stating the purpose was to help the PDC understand the status of the design process and to gain insight from the committee members.

“We are encouraged by their thoughtful questions and comments, such as the desire to enhance the project from Main Street,” he said. “We are working with the design team at CPL (Clark Patterson Lee) to develop concepts that enhance the entrance and Main Street courtyard. It is our hope that weather permitting, this courtyard can be utilized as an extension of our indoor program and activities.”

Board Director: A Transformative Build

Paul Marchese, chair of the Genesee Area YMCA Board of Directors, said he sees the campus as “the most transformative and impactive build in my history – and I’ve been living here all of my life.”

“I’m happy to support this project, which will significantly change Downtown. It is one of many investments that are going to reinvigorate Downtown. We think that our membership will significantly increase in factors. It is an amazing structure,” he said.

Walker said the YMCA was last renovated in 1975, He said he expects Downtown activity to triple once the campus is complete.

Plans call for the current YMCA to stay open until the new building is finished, meaning that there will be no disruption in services.

Others on hand for the announcement were Christopher White, chair of the GLOW YMCA Board of Directors; Paul Battaglia, capital campaign chair; and John Riter, capital campaign cochair.

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Photo at top: Rob Walker addresses the media this morning. Middle: Walker and David Ciurzynski; Bottom: Dan Ireland and Walker. Photos by Mike Pettinella.

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April 23, 2021 - 5:19pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rochester Regional Health, news, covid-19, coronavirus, notify.

As school-aged children starting spending more time at school with other children, get involved in more activities, both structured and socially, it's important that parents continue to safeguard their families and their communities by ensuring CDC guidelines are followed.

Social distancing, mask-wearing, and keeping symptomatic children home are all key parts of slowing the spread of COVID-19, said Dr. Steven Schulz, pediatric medical director for Rochester Regional Health, in a conference call this morning with reporters.

"I think the biggest thing is looking at your situation from a community approach and wanting to make sure everybody in your child's class is maintaining health and the community as well," Schulz said.

"That involves following the rules that have been, again, set forward through the CDC and Department of Health. And so wearing those masks is important.

"Keeping your kid home from school, if they have any potential illness symptoms and having them evaluated is important; filling out those daily assessments to make sure your kid is safe to go to school and working with them and talking with them about the importance of continued masking, especially outside of school when they might be getting together with friends, whether that's in a school sport or just on their own.

"That's the area where we can see the spread. And it's important that they're continuing to mask and keep social distancing even in those social settings."

Children, Schulz noted, who catch COVID-19, have a high likelihood of being an asymptomatic spreader of the disease, which is why it is important they abide by the protocols. They can feel fine and still be spreading a deadly virus.

Children who are symptomatic should definitely stay home, Schulz said.

"I completely agree with erring on the side of caution in this case," Schulz said. "The (symptoms) that we worry the most about are fever, sustained headaches that are unusual for your child, loss of taste or smell, or especially if they have any symptom and have had exposure recently to somebody with COVID, they should definitely stay home. Other symptoms that can go along with it are runny nose, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain."

Because there are symptoms that overlap with season allergies and other illnesses, parents should consult with a doctor and get the child tested with a negative result before letting asymptomatic child leave the house.

This is especially important at a time when there is a greater spread of a COVID-19 variant that, while no more dangerous, does infect people more easily. That variant now accounts for 60 percent of the cases locally, the doctor said. 

Schulz's message comes alongside news that nationally 20 percent of the new, identified COVID cases are now among children, the highest percentage yet.

April 22, 2021 - 2:57pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Rochester Regional Health, covid-19, coronavirus, news, notify, masks.

It's Earth Day 2021, the first one we've commemorated while under a mask mandate because of the coronavirus pandemic, so maybe we should talk about what mass mask wearing means for the environment?

A lot, it turns out, according to Mike Waller, Rochester Regional Health’s director of Sustainability, who spoke with reporters this morning about keeping masks away from animals and using masks that do less to deplete natural resources, such as reusable masks.

"I have three kids, and I want to say we probably have like a hundred different reusable masks at this point," Waller said. "They are really not that expensive any longer. But if you are using a disposable mask, there are ones made with more environmentally friendly materials made such as hemp and other natural fibers. If you do dispose of them, there really is no good way to recycle them because they are made from multiple materials. And so disposing of them in the regular trash, as you would any other items, is the best way to go."

It's not feasible financially for recycling companies to break down masks into their component parts so they can be processed into materials to make new products. But if disposables aren't disposed of properly, they're not only an eyesore on our city streets, they become a problem for wildlife. Potentially, a deadly one.

"A lot of turtles like them when they end up in the waterways," Waller said. "I read that mold and algae grow really easily on these masks. When that happens, it just looks like there's a green floating piece of algae. Fish and turtles think it's food and then they'll swallow the whole mask."

"Make sure they go in the trash," he said. "That's definitely the number one thing to do."

Reusable masks can, of course, be used dozens of times (washed between uses) and maybe hundreds of times before they need to go to a landfill. That will cut down on swallowing up the earth's resources to make masks.

While Waller isn't an epidemiologist and can't predict the course of the pandemic, he expects, as a personal opinion, that mask wearing will be with us for a good long time yet.

"I always thought it would take quite a few years," Waller said. "I think of my three kids in school and some of the folks in the school the district, they share, they predict we'll have masks through next year as well in the school. I think that that would probably make sense as well. I hope like everybody else, it's no longer than that.

"But, you know, I notice with my kids, I think it's very interesting, they don't -- my youngest is 3 -- and they don't really care about wearing masks at all. It's really not a big deal to them. And they do a great job of keeping them on. It's usually the adults that have all the issues."

April 8, 2021 - 4:27pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in allergies, Rochester Regional Health, news.

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Allergy season is upon us and for those who annually get sniffles and sneezes it's time to be prepared, said Dr. Peter Capucilli, an allergist with Rochester Regional Health, during a call with reporters on Wednesday.

"The first thing is just making sure that your prescriptions are up to date, that you have refills on the medications that you know will help you," Capucilli said. "I usually like to tell my patients that starting right after Valentine's Day, that's a really good marker of when to say, OK, now is the time to get prepared and start having those medications available just because we know allergy season can hit really hard and quickly when the trees start to drop all their pollen."

There are predictions that this could be a severe allergy season given the weather patterns of the winter and early spring and the general trend of global warming and Capucilli said those predictions have a strong possibility of coming true.

"We very well could see a higher pollen count this season," he said.

While people with severe allergies need to wear masks while doing things like mowing the lawn, Capucilli said don't expect those face coverings you've been wearing to slow the spread of COVID-19 to do much to protect you from pollen, which doesn't know anything about social distancing and is therefore always around all of us.

"I anticipate that overall the allergens will make their way into affecting us," he said. "I do feel like we'll still have a significant allergy season. We are already starting to see the beginnings of that now as we're getting into early April."

It's important, Capucilli said, for people to distinguish between the symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies. 

"Symptoms that are usually specific to allergy are things like itchy nose, sneezing, and certainly you can have those symptoms with COVID," Capucilli said. "I would say if you're having any of those things, and especially if you haven't been an allergic individual previously, it's probably better to be thorough and get tested to speak to your doctor if you have concerns that you're having new symptoms.

"The other symptoms that would probably tip you off in terms of being a bit more worried about COVID versus allergies are actually feeling sick. So generally, for patients who have allergies, the symptoms can be quite invasive but you don't feel like you necessarily are sick with a cold or that you're under the weather. Fevers would also be very atypical of allergy. You should not be getting fevers with allergies."

If you have any doubts, suggests Capucilli, you should get tested for COVID-19.

For those with allergies, it's fine to seek out the help of a specialist even if over-the-counter medications help your symptoms. You don't need serious symptoms to consult with a doctor. In some cases, Capucilli said, the best treatment might come in the form of a shot.

"The goal of that therapy is to actually make you less allergic," Capucilli said. "So some patients may be well controlled on over-the-counter therapies like antihistamines or the nasal sprays, which we prefer using often. The benefit of the allergy shots is that over time we desensitize you. We essentially reprogram the immune system to become tolerant of these allergens with a lasting effect."

April 6, 2021 - 2:32pm

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An expert in pediatric infectious diseases with Rochester Regional Health is encouraging all young people, 16 years and older, to get vaccinated for COVID-19 but in Genesee County, for 16- and 17-year-olds, getting vaccinated is going to be more difficult.

Of the three vaccines being administered around the state and the nation are from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson. Only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for 16- and 17-year-olds.

There are no clinics for the Pfizer vaccine planned for Genesee County, which means 16- and 17-year-olds looking to get vaccinated will need to travel Rochester or Buffalo to get the shot in the arm -- twice.

"We are encouraging the 16 and 17-year-olds to sign up for the state-run vaccine sites that provide the Pfizer vaccine which can vaccinate those who are 16 and older," said Nola Goodrich-Kresse, public information officer for the Genesee County Health Department.

There are several state-run clinics in our region, Goodrich-Kresse said.  Individuals aged 16 and 17 can check the state site for vaccine locations and check to make sure they are for the Pfizer vaccine.

"Currently, we do not know when or if Pfizer will be provided again locally," Goodrich-Kresse said.

Dr. Cynthia Christy, associate chief of pediatrics for Rochester General Hospital, who spoke to regional media yesterday to encourage young people to get vaccinated, acknowledged that COVID-19 poses little health risk to most young people but said people age 16 and older should consider what it could mean for people around them if they became contagious.

"I would imagine that teenagers do have the sense that nothing is going to impact them and that if they got it, they would be fine," Christy said. "So I think the angle for them is, well, what about your family? What about your grandparents? You probably would be fine if you got it, but this way will prevent you from impacting anyone you love."

For young people, who have been consistently less susceptible to COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, the Pfizer vaccine is believed to be 100-percent effective, Christy said, and the side effects are minimal (slightly sore harm, possible low-grade fever).  

"As I said before," Christy said, "tell them 'let's bring this pandemic to an end, let's keep me from getting an infection, and let's keep my family and friends safe.' "

Photo: Dr. Cynthia Christy during video conference with regional media.

Comments
April 2, 2021 - 12:10pm
posted by Press Release in Rochester Regional Health, UMMC, news, visitation, covid-19.

Press release:

Effective Monday, April 5, visitation at Rochester General Hospital, Unity Hospital, Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic, Newark-Wayne Community Hospital, and United Memorial Medical Center will expand to allow a maximum of two visitors per patient per day for up to four hours each at the bedside. Due to social distancing concerns because of COVID-19, only one visitor will be permitted at a time.

Visitors will be required to check in after being screened at the door.

Other changes to the policy include: 

  • Pediatrics (permits two support persons together)
    • Each patient may have two support persons 24/7;
  • Labor and Delivery (permits two support persons together)
    • Each patient may have two support persons 24/7;
  • Patients with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (permits two persons together)
    • Each patient may have one support person 24/7 and one visitor for a maximum of four hours per day during scheduled visiting hours.

Visitation hours: 

  • Rochester General Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 8 p.m.
  • Unity Hospital: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 8 p.m.
  • Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic:  12 – 8 p.m.
  • Newark-Wayne Community Hospital: Monday – Friday: 1 – 5 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • United Memorial Medical Center: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 3 – 6 p.m. 

Visitation is still prohibited for Emergency Department patients, COVID-19 positive patients, patients awaiting COVID-19 test results, cancer infusion centers, and inpatient behavioral health (chemical dependency and mental health).

For more information, please visit our website at www.rochesterregional.org.

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