Finger Lakes Flu Cases Rise: But Nursing Home Bed Shortages Are Causing Bigger Problems


Flu season is underway and hospitals in the Finger Lakes are feeling the strain. But this is not exclusively because of individual illnesses.

Health officials across the region are encouraging people to get annual flu shots to avoid catching it this fall or winter.

The state Department of Health reports an increase in flu cases in October. Progress has been faster than usual, according to Ontario County Health Director Mary Beer.

“It spreads very quickly,” she recently told 13WHAM-TV. “Usually we see slow progression.”

Between the understaffing at healthcare facilities large and small, as well as the financial stress that many hospitals in rural areas of upstate New York face, it creates a lot of uncertainty.

Strong Memorial Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in the Finger Lakes region, has 886 licensed beds. At any one time, officials under Strong’s leadership say they have more than 1,000 patients admitted or waiting for beds.

They say hospital capacity is a bigger issue now than it was during the pandemic. “Our ability to respond to elective surgical case demands is already strained and a total pause in elective surgeries is possible unless things improve,” Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael Apostolokas said at WHEC-TV.

The biggest problem with hospitals is the lack of nursing home beds. There is a reserve of medically stable patients who need to be placed in nursing homes. There is a massive shortage of these beds available in the region, so hospitals have to deal with the pain.


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