The coronavirus outbreak is so cruel and insidious that it can snuff out even the dimmest light at the end of the tunnel, grind the smallest hope into dust. It happened again Wednesday when health officials said Albany Medical Center could run out of COVID testing kits in the next few days.
Representatives from the hospital said they have a 2-to-3-day supply of testing kits remaining, at a media briefing Friday afternoon at Albany Medical Center.
Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson is holding its own for now, but that could change.
“Our current supply is meeting our current need,” Columbia Memorial Health spokesman William Van Slyke said Wednesday. “However, any increase in demand could become problematic if additional supplies are not made available.”
Other hospitals are hovering on the edge. For example, Ellis Medicine in Schenectady went over that edge and ran out of kits. It will come down to a matter of priority 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 blamed on problems with the supply chain.
“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.
The hospital is assessing its testing supplies daily.
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.
If hospitals test, we will know who is infected and who is not. Knowledge is power. Without testing kits, we will continue to feel our way through the darkness.