Hospital in Canandaigua takes critically-ill patients as part of University of Rochester Medical Center's Transfer Center

CANANDAIGUA — Thompson Hospital — that for years transferred critically-ill patients to larger, speciality hospitals such as Strong Memorial in Rochester — is now able to take those patients at its new Intensive Care Unit. Thompson’s new 12-bed, Sands-Constellation ICU in April became part of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Transfer Center. This means the new ICU at Thompson in Canandaigua is accepting critically-ill patients from other hospitals via emergency medical services, including Mercy Flight Central.

Facilities from across the Finger Lakes, Central New York and Southern Tier use the URMC Transfer Center. Any facilities in those regions may request or be directed to transfer patients to Thompson ICU.

“This is part of building a highest functioning regional healthcare system,” said Dr. Justin Weis, medical director of both Respiratory Medicine and the ICU at Thompson. “As we bring more and more complicated patients to F.F. Thompson, it will drive up the overall level of care and this can snowball forward in a good way. Many pieces will build from this, including other subspecialty services,” he said.

The transfer center opened ahead of schedule, to meet the demands of COVID-19. The first patient transferred to Thompson arrived May 2. As of May 14, there had been a total of four patients transferred to the ICU.

Thompson for many years had a seven-bed ICU that was often at capacity. The hospital moved patients into its new, 12-bed ICU on March 21. The expansion enabled the hospital to have full-time coverage from physicians who are specially trained in the care and management of critical patients and has allowed the hospital to keep more patients close to home rather than transferring them to Rochester due to limited capacity.

“A major goal of our ICU expansion project was to provide additional critical care services to our region, allowing area residents to receive advanced care here at Thompson,” said Mary Kate Corey, director of ICU and Observation Nursing for Thompson. “For many of our local residents, traveling to Rochester or Syracuse to visit a loved one creates transportation, financial and emotional hardships.

“Critical care at Thompson means patients are closer to home,” she said.

Corey added that when patients are closer to family and caregivers, it reduces stress by eliminating a long drive to an urban, regional center. Thompson has long-standing relationships with area volunteer and professional ground ambulance companies, as well as with Mercy Flight. That “allows patients to receive top-notch care while being transported to Thompson,” she said.

With Thompson’s expanded ICU, the hospital is able to take care of more patients in general, and this can include patients with COVID. If the hospital has limited capacity or should a patient with COVID have specific needs in terms of their care, there is a system-wide understanding within UR Medicine hospitals that patients can be transferred to Strong Memorial Hospital, according to the health system.

Weis added that enabling this comprehensive care at Thomspon will play a significant role especially during COVID-19 and through the use of technology, including Zoom or other tele-consultation.

Becoming part of the transfer center “has brought a true sense of pride to our team and inspires us to keep reaching to do more,” Weis said.