Testing kits become scarce

Nora Mishanec\Columbia-Greene MediaIncoming President and CEO of Albany Medical Center Dr. Dennis McKenna addresses COVID-19 testing on Wednesday.

ALBANY — Albany Medical Center could run out of testing kits for COVID-19 in the next few days, health officials said Wednesday.

Representatives from the hospital said they have a 2-to-3-day supply of testing kits remaining, in a media briefing Friday afternoon at Albany Medical Center.

“Our current supply is meeting our current need,” Columbia Memorial Health spokesman William Van Slyke said Wednesday afternoon. “However, any increase in demand could become problematic if additional supplies are not made available.”

Officials discussed testing priorities in the event that no more kits become available in the next few days.

“If we get to the point where there is an absolute shortage of the testing kits, we are going to take direction from the county. We are going to prioritize those kits for the people who are in-patients and the most at-risk populations,” said Dr. Dennis McKenna, incoming president and CEO of Albany Medical Center.

The low supply of testing kits is being caused by problems in the supply chain, officials said.

“We are constrained, if anything, by our outside resources, not by our internal resources,” said Dr. Fred Venditti, executive vice president for System Care Delivery and hospital general director.

The hospital is assessing its testing supplies daily, he said. “If we can’t do walk-up testing, we will notify the public within 24 hours.”

In addition to in-patients and at-risk populations, kits will also be directed toward hospital staff in the event of a shortage. “It is inevitable that a health care provider will get sick,” Director of Epidemiology Rebecca O’Donnell said.

“If you are working in the hospital, we need to know whether that person has been exposed to the virus or not. There is no question that we have to use the testing kits to prioritize health care workers,” McKenna said.

The hospital has administered 1,402 tests for COVID-19 at its temporary testing facility — a large tent set up in the parking lot. Hospital staff members are performing tests on both scheduled and walk-in patients.

All COVID-19 testing kits used at Capital Region hospitals are analyzed at the Wadsworth Center, a public health laboratory administered by the state Department of Health in Albany. Health officials said test results become available within 24 hours.

Albany Medical Center began performing its own tests internally on Tuesday, Venditti said, but the hospital can only perform 300 total tests with the supplies it has available.

As testing kits become scarce, hospitals may begin to share testing regionally. “We will continue to do that testing as we are directed to do so,” Venditti said. “We’ll work with the local hospitals to try to do that in a coordinated manner.”

Albany Medical Center does not keep track of identifying information about the patients it tests for COVID-19, McKenna said. “We are not tracking the origin of the patients. Wadsworth is able to track the county of origin of the tests.”

The hospital has not changed its privacy policies in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, officials said.

There have been no changes to the HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] rules, McKenna said. “We have to know who among our workforce has been exposed. Our compliance officer has assured us that everything we are doing is within the HIPAA rules,” he said.

HIPAA laws were introduced in 1996 to protect patient privacy and restrict the sharing of health information. The laws permit hospitals to disclose protected health information if a person poses a serious threat to public health. McKenna did not comment on how HIPAA laws might affect disclosure of information regarding COVID-19.

Ellis Hospital in Schenectady has suspended testing due to a shortage of kits, Ellis officials said Wednesday.

Albany Medical Center is coordinating the response to COVID-19 with area hospitals, including Columbia Memorial Health, St. Peter’s Health Partners, Ellis Medicine, Saratoga Hospital, Glens Falls Hospital and St. Mary’s Healthcare Amsterdam.

Officials from each hospital are in contact daily via conference call.

Columbia Memorial Health is part of the Albany Medical Center network.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

(4) comments


Mr. Myers, I marvel at your talent. What a knack you have for transforming your commentary about EVERY Greene County event into a screed about the prison! Not enough respirators? The money to purchase them was diverted to the prison. No testing kits? This shortage could have been prevented if the money hadn't been spent on the prison. No hospital in Greene County? The corrupt county legislators kicked that idea to the curb so they could...........build the prison instead. Nonsense. All of it.

I think, Mr. Myers, that your pathological obsession with the prison, the legislators, the zoning board, the County Attorney, et al, is a just a form of self-aggrandizement. I think you care less for the PEOPLE of Greene County than you do the opportunity to toot your own horn in a public forum. That my tax money is used to fight your frivolous lawsuits is abhorrent. Please find a new hobby.


Dear Elizabeth. $90 million. No hospital. No new business (See Central Hudson OutOfAlignment). No plan for new business, tech and such. And now we’re here. I told you so isn’t useful.

CMH just stopped doing Covid-19 tests. Their emergency unit was 80% full before this pandemic.

Attacking me )pathological obsessions) is useless. I’m simply stating the obvious, over and over and over again until this changes. Since the county’s intransigent I’ve taken the issues to court.


You make me sick, Smeyers. We have bigger concerns like keeping people safe during the Corona virus. Shut the heck up, get a J-O-B and THAT will be doing your share during these challenging times. I have NO idea what world YOU live in, but you make me absolutely sick with your persistence re the jail. I can't wait til I can see a picture of a big hole at 80 Bridge Street. I may even go do an Irish jig in front of it. As for your behavior, I hope you alienate yourself with your friends who feel you are right. I suggest you reassess your behavior, grow up, and move out of Dodge.


There’s no hospital in Greene County. We forced a jail that was never justified. A jail is non-productive, each local tax dollar is spent with no return. A hospital on the other hand is productive, fees are paid by insurance or from state and local government.

There is no significant readiness by Greene County. There’s not one inhalator, no place to put one, no one to run it.

Worse, there’s no evidence this is improving. The lack of tests is not the lack of infection.

As annoying as this is,, and I must persist, obligating $90 million for a non-productive huge jail is severely incompetent. The contractors aren’t from here, the interest leaves the county, the $8 million Peter Markou took from “reserves” has to be put back.

Demolishing the Sheriff’s office is similarly corrupt. 80 Bridge Street has no structural defects. It’s historic. It’s near the courthouse where it belongs, and where it must be by County Law § 216.

The abject lack of preparedness represents the deep real incompetence of our local government, including the Village of Catskill, who recently aided County Attorney Ed Kaplan’s need to coverup his failure.

Immediately abandon the jail, rearrange the bond to productive infrastructure projects, for instance convert the monster in Coxsackie to a medical/treatment center.

Rehab 80 Bridge Street and put the sheriff back there, where he belongs by law.

This is one positive result to come from this pandemic. Now’s the time.

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