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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Visitor Restrictions, Resources, and Updates

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News & Events


St. James Outpatient Clinics Expand Telehealth Services During COVID-19 Pandemic

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

In an effort to protect patients and staff from potential COVID-19 exposure, UR Medicine/St. James primary care, orthopaedics, podiatry, and specialty care offices are now offering telehealth appointments to some patients in lieu of in-person visits. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, providers are discouraging people from traveling to a medical office unless absolutely necessary, since the virus transfers easily from person to person.  With the canceling of most office visits, alternative care such as telephone and video consults are viable options for patients who do not need to be seen in person. 

“Using telehealth supports our community-wide effort to reduce infection risk through social distancing, while freeing up capacity and resources to care for patients who are acutely ill,” said Bilal Ahmed, M.D., St. James Hospital chief medical officer. 

He said St. James is offering telehealth on a case-by-case basis, to ensure a patient’s medical condition doesn’t worsen before they can be seen in person.

“Telehealth was originally developed to serve patients in remote locations, but at a time like this it helps all patients get the care they need more quickly, without danger of contracting the virus,” he said.  “Our providers embrace it because they can more easily monitor a patient’s ongoing concerns, especially with the high number of COVID-19 cases in our area.”

Patients of St. James primary care, orthopaedics, podiatry, and specialty care (oncology, general surgery, neurosurgery, cardiology, otolaryngology/ENT, urology) can interact with their provider via phone, computer, tablet, email, or video chat.  Patient information is transmitted securely through the UR Medicine portal.  Telehealth visits are covered by most insurances, and associated copays are being waived during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have been using the technology on a limited basis but the demand has recently intensified,” said Dr. Ahmed.  “We’re excited to expand access to telehealth services at this critical time, and expect it will become more commonplace in the future.”

In addition, Dr. Ahmed noted that providers in those outpatient offices are temporarily staggering their schedules to minimize exposure, while continuing to cover all acute patient needs and messages.  Non-clinical staff are also working remotely as much as possible.

Primary care patients may call (607) 385-3700; orthopaedics and podiatry patients may call (607) 385-3740; and specialty care patients may call (607) 385-3820 to schedule an appointment. 

WLEA interview with Dr. Ismail Mehr updating the community on how St. James is handling COVID-19.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Listen to the interview here

WKPQ interview with CEO Bryan O'Donovan and Dr. Ismail Mehr: the latest information on COVID-19 in our community.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Listen to the WKPQ interview here.

WLEA interview with CEO Bryan O’Donovan and Drs. John Robshaw and Ismail Mehr: updating the community on St. James’s response to COVID-19

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Listen to the April 2 WLEA interview here  

Mayor Buckley and UR Medicine/St. James Hospital Strongly Urge Community to Social Distance Amid Growing Local COVID-19 Cases

Wednesday, March 31, 2020

March 31, 2020… As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows in Hornell and surrounding communities, with several patients hospitalized at UR Medicine/St. James Hospital, local officials implore the community to take every precaution to social distance.

“We now have several patients on our inpatient unit who are COVID-19 positive,” said St. James president and CEO, Bryan O’Donovan.  “We need the community to continue take this public health crisis seriously, to prevent further cases.”

Hornell Mayor John Buckley concurs. 

“Now more than ever it’s imperative that people stay home and only go out to get the bare essentials, to minimize their exposure,” he said.  “We know it’s difficult, but this situation is going to get worse before it gets better, and we want people of Hornell and surrounding communities to heed all precautions.”

Physicians at St. James Hospital are seeing more confirmed cases and treating those patients, as well as non-COVID-19 patients.

“We have enough PPE and staff to take care of the patients we have,” said Ismail Mehr, M.D., “but we do not want those numbers to climb dramatically.  Our community must do everything they can to avoid getting COVID-19, the best way of which is to stay home.”

John Robshaw, M.D., oversees the St. James emergency department, and conveys the same message.

“We are taking all precautions to keep our staff and patients safe, including masking everyone as they come into the building,” he said.  “Anyone with severe symptoms – such as shortness of breath and high fever – should go to the emergency department for a higher level of care, and if possible should call in advance (607-247-2300).”

People are urged to follow the guidelines – frequent hand washing, cough/sneeze into a tissue or inside of your elbow, self-quarantine for mild symptoms, and especially, social distancing. 

“We are continuing to take care of all patients who come through our door to include COVID-19 positive patients, as well as doing essential surgeries,” said O’Donovan.  “We cannot stress enough that social distancing works, and we ask the community to share the message.”

St. James Moves to “Universal Masking” to Limit COVID-19 Exposure

Monday, March 30, 2020

As the novel coronavirus extends its spread throughout the region, UR Medicine/St. James Hospital is moving to “universal masking,” which requires all staff, vendors and visitors within St. James health care facilities to wear a surgical mask at all times. Universal masking applies to all inpatient, urgent care, procedure and clinic locations within St. James Hospital, and takes effect Tuesday, March 31st at 7 p.m.

“Several factors drove this decision,” said Bilal Ahmed, MD, St. James chief medical officer.  “The experience of other organizations and countries suggests that taking a universal approach to masking in health care settings helps to keep the pandemic under control.  We are seeing a steady increase of cases in Steuben County and the region.  Now that the infection is becoming more prevalent, universal masking is a preventative strategy we can take to keep our health care workers and patients safe, and also slow down the increase in positive cases.”

All UR Medicine affiliates, in collaboration with Rochester Regional Health, are taking this approach. 

The new directives include:

  • All St. James staff, vendors or other visitors must wear a mask while in any common or shared areas of the hospital at 7329 Seneca Rd. and medical office building at 7309 Seneca Rd.  This includes the lobby, hallway, patient unit, patient exam rooms, cafeteria, etc. 
  • Only patients who are COVID-19 positive or show symptoms of COVID-19 will be masked.

“We know that the coronavirus spreads mainly from person-to-person,” said Dr. Ahmed.  “The primary means of transmission appears to be respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough that land on a surface (i.e., doorknobs, phones, countertops), or from droplets from a coughing or sneezing person a few feet away.  Masks prevent the virus on your hands -- or dispersed from a cough – from reaching your nose and mouth (and why frequent hand washing and hand sanitizers are so strongly encouraged).  By masking our entire health care workforce, we are taking yet one more step to reduce the risk of inadvertent exposure among co-workers, with our patients, our family and friends, and our community.”

WLEA's Brian O'Neil Interview with CEO Bryan O'Donovan and Drs. Izzy Mehr and John Robshaw

Thursday, March 26, 2020

WLEA's Brian O'Neil interviewed CEO Bryan O'Donovan and Drs. Izzy Mehr and John Robshaw today to discuss St. James Hospital's response to COVID-19. Listen here

St. James Hospital/UR Medicine Implements New Directives in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In light of the growing number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, St. James Hospital has implemented new directives as recommended by UR Medicine and New York State Department of Health. The hospital also developed a surge plan to address and prepare for the potential increase of COVID-19 patients.    

  • The main entrance of the hospital is closed indefinitely, to limit traffic in and out of the building.  All patients and staff are required to enter through the emergency department, where they will be screened.
  • A new triage process has been implemented in the emergency department to reduce potential exposure to staff and patients.  If possible, people are asked to call ahead to the emergency department at (607) 247-2300.
  • All elective surgeries, procedures and non-essential outpatient visits at St. James will be postponed until May 1.
  • The no-visitors policy will be extended through May 1.  Exceptions include one visitor for pediatric inpatients or special circumstances.

“We are taking every measure possible to minimize exposure to our patients and staff,” said Bilal Ahmed, M.D., St. James Hospital chief medical officer.

Dr. Ahmed reminds the public to continue to follow the recommended safety guidelines:  frequent hand washing, cough/sneeze into a tissue or inside of your elbow, social distancing, and self-quarantine for mild symptoms.  He emphasizes that patients with mild respiratory symptoms should not come to the emergency department or urgent care to ask for COVID-19 testing.

“If anyone thinks they might have been exposed to Coronavirus/COVID-19 before visiting your provider’s office, Urgent Care, or the Emergency Room, call the UR Medicine COVID-19 support line at 1-888-928-0011 or your health care provider. You can also contact the NYS Department of Health (888-364-3065) to determine next steps,” he said.  “Patients with serious symptoms are encouraged to seek a higher level of care at the emergency department.”

Bryan O’Donovan, St. James president and CEO, commends his team for their efforts.

“Everyone at St. James Hospital is doing an extraordinary job of responding to this rapidly evolving situation, and we are so grateful for their efforts to keep patients and staff safe. We would also like to thank the community for following social distancing guidelines and for the tremendous number of phone calls and social media posts supporting our hospital and our team members during these challenges times.”

St. James Hospital/UR Medicine Continues to Monitor and Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic

Saturday, March 21, 2020

In light of confirmation that two Steuben County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, officials at UR Medicine/St. James Hospital continue to monitor and provide guidance to protect the community.

“Everything we are doing is geared toward keeping our staff and patients safe,” said Bilal Ahmed, M.D., St. James Hospital chief medical officer. “We have implemented a no-visitors policy, with the exception of one visitor for pediatric patients or special circumstances, and are rescheduling all non-essential outpatient clinic appointments and surgeries.  This will help ensure that our local health system has the staff and resources it needs to care for all patients.”

Dr. Ahmed emphasizes that patients with mild respiratory symptoms should not come to the emergency department or urgent care to ask for COVID-19 testing.  Patients with serious symptoms are encouraged to seek a higher level of care at the emergency department.

“If anyone thinks they might have been exposed to Coronavirus/COVID-19 they should call their primary care physician or the NYS Department of Health (888-364-3065) to determine next steps,” he said.

“There is a nationwide shortage of test kits and the reagents to conduct the tests, so given the limited supply we are only testing patients who have severe symptoms,” stated Bryan O’Donovan, St. James Hospital president and CEO.

Due to the visitor restrictions and COVID-19 guidelines, St. James is also limiting access to its two buildings on Seneca Road, and all patients and staff will go through screening questions at the medical office building and at the hospital main entrance.

“Patients coming to the medical office building for appointments should use entrances B and C only,” said O’Donovan. “We also want to remind people to self-quarantine if they have mild symptoms, practice social distancing to avoid unnecessary contact, and follow good hand hygiene.”

To learn more about COVID-19 visit:


St. James Hospital Cuts Ribbon in Anticipation of March 17 Grand Opening

Friday, March 6, 2020

Officials from New York State, UR Medicine and St. James Hospital gathered Friday morning to cut the ribbon on the new, 87,000-square-foot hospital. Located at 7329 Seneca Rd. N. in Hornell, the new facility is nearly complete and will open for business March 17. The public was invited to an open house and tours at 1 p.m.

“Today we celebrate a new chapter in our community’s history,” said Bryan O’Donovan, St. James Hospital president and CEO. “This is the culmination of hard work and determination to keep quality health care right here in Hornell. It is the result of collaboration among our state and local partners, leadership at the University of Rochester Medical Center, St. James medical staff, our employees and the entire community.”

The project began several years ago with a collaboration among local legislators, community members, and St. James leadership, who worked with state officials to secure $63 million in funding for the project and preserve critical health care services in Hornell. Construction began in late 2017. 

“This new facility at St. James Hospital will expand services and help to ensure the best care for patients in the area,” said New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “We are committed to investing in projects like the UR Medicine St. James Hospital to support state-of-the-art equipment and modernized space to improve the patient experience and make sure individuals and families receive the treatment and support they need to lead healthy and safe lives.”

“Today’s opening provides the people of Hornell with a state-of-the-art facility, designed to improve access to quality healthcare and keep vital services available to the community,” said New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. “This is a fine example of what can be achieved through thoughtful planning and collaboration that aims to keep communities healthy and thriving.”

Ribbon cutting ceremony“I want to thank Gov. Cuomo, Dr. Zucker and the Department of Health, the State Legislature, and Reuben McDaniel’s team at the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York,” O’Donovan said. “Without the funding and their unwavering support, this project would not have come to fruition.”

“We are extremely grateful to Gov. Cuomo and New York State for supporting this outstanding new UR Medicine hospital and the entire Hornell Medical Village,” said Mark B. Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “These projects exemplify the UR Medicine strategy of providing high-quality health care as close to home as possible, with strong community hospitals supported by primary care and advanced outpatient services across upstate New York.”

Participating in the event with O’Donovan and Taubman were McDaniel, on behalf of Gov. Cuomo; U.S. Representative Tom Reed; University of Rochester President Sarah Mangelsdorf; SJH Medical Staff President Spencer Annabel, M.D.; former Hornell mayor and SJH board member Shawn Hogan; and SJH Board Chair Susan Gray.

“This is an exciting day for our Hornell community and for St. James," Gray said. “Our board would like to thank the many people who shared their visions, persistence and hard work that culminated in the completion and opening our new hospital building and to our community for its support as the vision has become a reality.”

State-of-the-art Facility

All areas of the new St. James Hospital are designed for a patient- and family-friendly care experience, with large waiting areas, comfortable furnishings, and ample natural light.

Highlights include:

  • Inpatient unit with 15 beds, new monitoring equipment, and comfortable recliners if families wish to stay overnight with their loved one
  • Emergency department with 8 treatment bays, 4 observation rooms, trauma room, 2 entrances (walk-in and ambulance), and helipad located adjacent
  • Surgical suite with 4 operating rooms, 13 pre- and post-op beds in walled cubicles, and large family waiting room
  • Imaging services with brand-new equipment (including full-time MRI)
  • Laboratory services and pharmacy
  • Infusion services
  • Cafeteria, chapel, and gift shop
  • Information desk and helpful ambassadors

The hospital is located adjacent to the new Medical Office Building (former K-Mart plaza), which provides essential outpatient services to the community, including women’s imaging, primary care, physical therapy and orthopaedics, urgent care, blood draw station, X-ray services, and specialists from UR Medicine.

The new hospital will open at 8 a.m. March 17. Operations will simultaneously cease at the 411 Canisteo St. location. During the ensuing two weeks (through March 31), St. James will collaborate with local emergency services agencies and will have a team of emergency medical services (EMS) providers at the Canisteo Street Emergency Department around the clock, to evaluate and transport patients to the new hospital on Seneca Road, to ensure continuity of emergency care.

St. James Hospital Earns National Four-Star rating from Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Monday, March 2, 2020

St. James Hospital has achieved an annual overall rating of four out of five stars from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in its annual 2020 hospital rankings report (“Hospital Compare” program), released on Jan. 30. The report compares 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals in the country, and ranks them from one to five stars.

"This is a great accomplishment for the medical staff, clinical staff and team members,” said Bryan O’Donovan, St. James president and chief executive officer. "They work hard every day to improve the health of our community, and we are pleased that St. James has been recognized by CMS as a leading health care organization."

CMS created Hospital Compare in collaboration with organizations representing consumers, hospitals, doctors, employers, accrediting organizations, and other federal agencies to help health care consumers make decisions about where to get their health care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of the care they provide.

“Patients receive high-quality care at every UR Medicine hospital, as demonstrated by all of our affiliates recently earning the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval based on a rigorous system-wide review process,” said Steven I. Goldstein, president and CEO of Strong Memorial and Highland hospitals in Rochester, and senior vice president of the University of Rochester Medical Center. “Bryan O’Donovan and his clinical team have worked extremely hard to improve the patient experience at St. James, and we are delighted to see that effort recognized with a four-star rating on the CMS hospital comparison site.”

“With the opening of our new Hospital in March, we will have a wonderful patient and family centered environment that will enable our team to focus on our patients needs first,” said O’Donovan.  “The new facility has many features that accentuate patient and family comfort and convenience, while improving care delivery.”

The new Hospital at 7329 Seneca Rd. N. in Hornell is slated to open March 17. The public is invited to an open house on March 6 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Hospital Compare rating was determined by surveying patients and asking about their experiences, measuring the timeliness and effectiveness of care, determining the number of complications and deaths at the hospital, and considering payments and value of care. The overall rating was calculated from over 100 measures in data gathered in February and October of 2019. The entire report can be seen at Hospital Compare.

Read More: St. James Hospital Earns National Four-Star rating from Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)