Due to Fulton County’s small population size, COVID-19 cases are not as bad as they are in other counties across New York state. However, being that Nathan Littauer Hospital is one of the only available to residents of Fulton County, the hospital would be under immense pressure if cases were to rise again. Thankfully, the hospital received funding from the state and donations from volunteers to aid them through the current hard times. The hospital is currently working closely with the New York State Department of Health, local public health departments, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to closely monitor the county and actively respond to cases. Luckily, the county has seen only 372 cases since March 31st.
Even though COVID-19 cases in Fulton County are currently low, the shutdown of the state has presented difficulties for many families in the community. One example is the nursing home in the Nathan Littauer hospital, which houses many long-term and short-term patients. With the current state of public health, the hospital has set strict guidelines and visitor restrictions in order to prevent the spread of the virus, making it very difficult for families to visit and patients to see their loved ones. In addition to those restrictions, another is that the hospital is also urging patients to call their primary care physicians and other health practitioners first prior to coming in. While many patients have the ability to talk to their medical provider or use a patient portal in order to delay medical treatment and contact their physician, the concept of virtual care presents issues of its own. However, we talked about this during This issue was brought up in our Exploring Healthcare Class, as we discussed how some patients only truly feel at ease and that they are being taken care of if they can see their doctors in person, rather than via telehealth.
With Fulton County’s rural set-up, one of the biggest challenges presented to residents is that some are unable to access their healthcare providers due to limited public transportation. Due to COVID-19, most of the public transportation services have been forced to adjust their times, making this an issue for many of the people who rely on scheduled public transportation. Another adjustment made to the healthcare landscape during the pandemic is that local rehabilitation centers and the Fulton County Public Health Center have moved some of their support group events online, however, stable internet access is sometimes an issue for people living on a lower income. One of the very common themes, when the pandemic started, was that some students were unable to access their classes due to limited or poorly functioning Wi-Fi in their homes. The same issue applies to those who are unable to access telehealth visits due to internet connectivity issues. Without reliable internet and minimal access to public transportation, the current times have definitely increased barriers for residents of Fulton County.
Overall, Fulton County has been content with the low amount of cases they have been able to maintain since the start of the pandemic. However, the state shut-down order has made it hard for people in terms of mental and physical health, especially with even less access to care than the bare minimum they received prior to the pandemic.