Patient Care

Healthcare Leaders Urge Precautions as Respiratory Illnesses Increase

Dec. 13, 2023

A rise in cases of flu, RSV, and COVID in Monroe County prompted healthcare leaders this week to encourage the community to take precautions as the spread of respiratory viruses rapidly increases, threatening to overwhelm local hospitals and other healthcare providers this holiday season.

Michael Mendoza, MD, MPH, County Commissioner of Public Health, was joined on a virtual news briefing Dec. 12 by Michael Apostolakos, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals; Robert Mayo, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Rochester Regional Health; and Linda Clark, MD, MS, President and CEO of Jordan Health Center.

The group emphasized that the rapidly rising illnesses are stressing the capacity of our health systems. You can read more here about the group’s guidance.

At Strong Memorial, the number of hospitalized patients on isolation for respiratory illness has more than doubled since Thanksgiving. On Nov. 22, Strong Memorial had a total of 30 patients on isolation with flu, COVID, or RSV. By Dec. 12, that number had jumped to 69.

Strong Memorial and Highland, both already operating above capacity, have implemented more stringent masking requirements for hospital employees and strongly encourage all visitors to wear a mask. People with symptoms of respiratory illness should not visit to reduce the chance of spreading infection in the hospital.

Hospital leaders want to do all they can to reduce demand for inpatient care. Vaccination and masking inside the hospital are two important strategies. Another way people can help is to manage symptoms of illness before they become severe, by taking advantage of resources outside the hospital.

  • If you are having difficulty breathing, chest pains, or other severe symptoms, come to the ED and our teams will see you immediately. If you aren’t experiencing a medical emergency, there are faster and more convenient ways to get care.
  • Your primary care provider is always a great resource – especially if you use UR Medicine MyChart, which is a great tool for communicating efficiently with your primary care team.
  • Urgent care is another good option. UR Medicine Urgent Care has many sites across the community, and you can go to our website to see the estimated wait time for each.
  • On-Demand Video Visits are a third way to meet with a provider, usually in less than 15 minutes, from a smartphone or computer. This service is available seven days a week, including holidays, and you don’t have to be a UR Medicine patient to take advantage of it.

Nobody wants flu, COVID, or RSV to interrupt their enjoyment of the holiday season. On behalf of our incredible team of health care workers at UR Medicine, we appreciate everyone’s help to reduce the spread of infection and avoid unnecessary trips to the hospital.