BINGHAMTON, NY – Despite fighting on the front lines of the pandemic, some employees at Binghamton General Hospital have found the time to care for some young people with nowhere else to go.

Starting last year, the Emergency Department and the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program or C-PEP saw a sharp increase in the number of boarders.

Those are young people between the ages of 10 and 21 who present at the hospital for treatment or evaluation and then have no where to be discharged to.

They typically continue living at the hospital for more than 2 weeks, one as long as 7 months.

At one point last year, there were 7 boarders living at General.

So Team UHS, made up of emergency, C-PEP and security personnel began volunteering their time to serve as de facto guardians for the kids.

They tended to their needs with toiletries, bedding and haircuts and offered them socialization activities such as games, long walks and even a Christmas luncheon.

Emergency Room Director Mark Medina says his staff tends to be tough because of the trauma that they witness regularly.

“They’ve shown such a softer side with this specific population that we’re serving now, being a mother, being a father in some instances, just a companion. I’m very humbled by the outpouring of compassion that the staff has provided to our patients,” says Medina.

Medina says others have pitched in, with the UHS Foundation providing funding to buy things for the boarders and some local ambulance services providing special gifts as well.