Upstate keeps New York State fairgoers healthy
Stan Goettel, manager of the State Fair Infirmary and a member of Upstate Emergency Medicine faculty, looks over staffing records with registered nurse Ann Yankay at the infirmary. Upstate has managed the State Fair infirmary since it opened in 2005.
Light-headed. Overcome by heat. Bug bites. Chest pains, Cuts, scrapes and bruises. If people experience any of these at the New York State Fair, there’s a good chance they’ll end up at the fair’s infirmary, which is operated again this year by Upstate Medical University.
Tucked away behind the Horticulture Building and next to the petting zoo, the air-conditioned infirmary is 22,000 square feet with 22 beds, a waiting room and triage area.
It’s the perfect momentary refuge from the noise and heat of the fair, where those who arrive can get treatment and get back to the action.
“That’s what we want to accomplish with every person who comes to the infirmary for treatment—get them feeling better so they can get back to the fair with their family,” said Stan Goettel, a member of Upstate’s Emergency Medicine faculty who manages the infirmary.
Goettel says about eight out of every 10 individuals who are seen at the infirmary return to the fair following treatment. Most common medical issues are asthma attacks, bee stings, blood sugar abnormalities, broken bones, dehydration and heat exhaustion. Individuals with more significant health issues, such as stroke symptoms, head trauma, heart attacks will be transported to the hospital.
While Goettel oversees the infirmary operations, nurses and physicians from Upstate’s Department of Emergency Medicine dispense the medical care. Also assisting in providing care are Upstate EMS fellows. EMTs from Rural Metro are also part of the care team, including several who patrol the fair on bicycles looking for fairgoers who might be in distress. A Rural Metro rig is at the ready for any hospital transport that is needed.
The infirmary is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the fair. The facility also treats people who work at the fair’s concessions, rides and other attractions.
Last year the infirmary treated 653 people during the 12-day run of the fair; in 2013, it treated 731 people. The busiest year for the infirmary was 2012 when it treated 762 people. Total visits for other years are below.