Ulster County Calls for Healthcare Volunteers as COVID-19 Overwhelms Hospitals

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan announced on April 3 that the Ulster County Department of Health is actively seeking licensed health care volunteers to help with the County’s response to COVID-19.

When Ryan announced the need for licensed volunteers, there were 266 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four fatalities in Ulster County. As of April 11, there are 655 cases and 11 fatalities. The County is specifically seeking local, regional and statewide doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals — including those who have retired from the field — as volunteers. 

As of April 6, approximately 70 County residents have volunteered.

“We are continuing to use data on the ground, as well as learn from other areas impacted by COVID-19, to monitor and adjust our response daily,” said Ulster County Commissioner of Health Dr. Carol Smith in a press release. “We are looking to add to our pool of health care professionals to ensure that we have adequate staff no matter how the situation unfolds in the upcoming weeks. We are continuing to work around the clock to ensure that Ulster County is prepared for any scenario.”

Ulster County is recruiting volunteers through a statewide volunteer service database called ServNY.  

Additionally, on March 28, Ryan announced that Ulster County has been working to “quadruple” their hospital and treatment capacity.  

Ryan said that adding 235 beds at the Mary’s Avenue campus of HealthAlliance, primarily by retrofitting parts of the former Benedictine Hospital, would help meet the County’s needs.

However, on April 6, the County Executive warned that Ulster County has seen the COVID-19 hospitalization rate increase by 50%, with 382 confirmed cases at the time. This increase had almost depleted the hospital bed supply, leaving only one ICU bed available.

The increase in cases has pushed Ulster County to construct 55 new new bed spaces at the Kate Walton Fieldhouse and double the amount of ventilators available.

“As we build out additional hospital capacity to serve our residents, we are also going to need volunteers with medical backgrounds to step up and serve our community,” Ryan said in a prepared statement. “Our healthcare workers have been on the front lines of this epidemic since day one and their efforts are nothing short of heroic.”
Medical professionals who would like to volunteer can fill out the form available at covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/ulster-county-medical-response-volunteer/.

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About Nikki Donohue 88 Articles
Nikki Donohue is a fourth-year double major in history and journalism. This is her sixth semester with The Oracle. She has worked as a News Copy Editor and an Assistant Copy Editor.