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Families who endured COVID-19 don’t agree with Donald Trump’s sugar-coated experience

“They had so many patients that it was all hands on deck,” Ackerman explained.

“And I think what truly would have made a difference is our government not downplaying this disease,” she added.

As Trump this week crows about his first-rate medical care — which included a rare experimental antibody treatment available to fewer than 10 people outside medical trials — and declares victory in the pandemic, many Americans hit by virus are struggling to share his optimism.

More than 211,000 people have died in the pandemic, and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, this week predicted that the death toll could go as high as 300,000 to 400,000 if serious action isn’t taken soon.

Meanwhile, Trump has used his fight against the virus to minimize the tragedy, declaring his coronavirus diagnosis a “blessing in disguise” in a polished video from the White House Rose Garden on Wednesday.

His message leaves families like Ackerman’s trying to square the president’s overly optimistic message with their own reality.

“With his power of being president comes privilege, and that’s the way it should be, despite what my political beliefs or somebody else’s might be,” Ackerman said. “But I think that everybody should get the same kind of attention.”

Recently, Ackerman shared a photo of her 79-year old father on Twitter. Sick and pale in a hospital gown, an oxygen mask covering most of his face, he didn’t match the president’s rosy description of fighting the virus, nor did he look like himself: the full-time immigration attorney who used to personally drive his clients to their hearings in his old Cadillac.

PHOTO: Carol Ackerman's father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

Carol Ackerman’s father Stanley J. Teich, who passed away in April at 79, poses with two of his granddaughters.

“I’m sure that he’d be upset with me if he knew I shared that, but I wanted it to be real,” Ackerman said. “These are real people, these are everyday Americans that got sick through no fault of their own, and died.”

Across the country, families who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus over the past eight months echoed Ackerman’s sentiments, calling the fallout of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis this past week at once triggering and bewildering.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” the president tweeted just before opting to

” target=”_blank”>leave the hospital for the White House, where 20-30 medical professionals took over his

St. Peter’s, Ellis hospital systems agree to merger proposal

St. Peter’s Health Partners and Ellis Medicine have signed a non-binding letter of intent to merge operations, multiple sources have confirmed.

The two organizations, based in Albany and Schenectady, are among the region’s three largest hospital systems, the other being Albany Medical Center.

Born of mergers themselves, St. Peter’s and Ellis have operated independently of each other for over 100 years. They have, however, collaborated on a number of projects over the years, including joint ventures designed to lower health care costs and reduce avoidable hospital admissions in the region.

On Wednesday, St. Peter’s president and CEO Jim Reed sent a letter to colleagues announcing the intent to “integrate,” saying it signifies the “next logical step” in the organizations’ longstanding collaboration.
“Our two organizations share a vision for a more fully integrated, region-wide approach to care that aims to improve the health of our neighbors; embraces new models such as value-based care; and lowers overall health care costs for our community,” he wrote.

With the signing of a letter of intent, St. Peter’s and Ellis will now begin the process of developing an organizational structure, he said. A final agreement will require approval by the boards of both organizations, as well as regulatory agencies such as the state Department of Health.

There is no specific time frame for completion, Reed said, but added that “the rapid nature of change in health care demands expediency.”
“I would also like to underscore that, as SPHP and Ellis evaluate a path forward, it is with an eye toward respecting the heritage of all the institutions that make up SPHP and Ellis Medicine, while expanding access to care and improving outcomes for the Capital Region community,” he said.

Both Ellis and St. Peter’s health systems were created from mergers that occurred this century, but their forerunners have roots dating back to the 1800s.

The original Ellis Hospital dates back to 1885, when the Schenectady Free Dispensary opened on lower Union Street with just five beds. It grew and relocated over the years, eventually occupying a plot at the corner of Nott Street and Rosa Road. In 2006, a state commission ordered the restructuring of hospitals statewide, and Ellis Hospital, the old St. Clare’s Hospital on McClellan Street (now an outpatient center) and Bellevue Woman’s Center in Niskayuna consolidated to become Ellis Medicine. A Clifton Park urgent care location was constructed in 2012.

St. Peter’s Health Partners, which is privately owned by national Catholic health system Trinity Health, formed in 2011 from a merger of three local health systems: Northeast Health, St. Peter’s Health Care Services and Seton Health. Four legacy hospitals in Albany and Troy came with the package — St. Mary’s, which opened in 1848; Albany Memorial, which opened in 1868; St. Peter’s, which opened a year later; and Samaritan Hospital, which opened in 1898. Together, they are certified to operate over 850 beds.

At just 438 beds, Ellis remains the smaller of the two and further consolidations have been explored over the