City to rapidly expand health care facilities and medical personnel to treat coronavirus patients

Photo by Todd Maisel

The city will rapidly expand its healthcare facilities and pool of health care workers to treat New Yorkers who have become ill after contracting COVID-19, the mayor announced on Monday.

“We understand that this curve is moving rapidly,” said de Blasio. “I do not believe that the United States government is on a wartime basis right now … if they did we would already have support from federal agencies, so we will do it ourselves.”

The curve that de Blasio spoke of refers to graph that illustrates how there could be huge uptick in positive coronavirus cases if no measure are taken. As of Monday, there are 463 positive cases of coronavirus in New York City, 134 more from yesterday. So far, seven New Yorkers have died due to complications from the virus. The sixth fatality was a 56-year-old Bronx man who worked as an investigator with the Department of Correction. The city says that he did not visit the inside of a jail facility and only worked with one other individual who is in self-quarantine. The seventh was a 89-year-old man who returned from a trip to Italy a week ago.

The city is currently working to identify all spaces that can be converted immediately for medical use and would be creating and building out medical facilities and retrofitting facilities that have nothing to do with healthcare in order to turn them into hospitals as long as the city has sufficient medical equipment and personnel to man them.

In order to meet this need, the mayor said that the city is considering asking retired doctors to practice again, students who can be appropriately credentialed to work and ask the military’s medical units to come in if necessary. If New York state continues to be an area where people are disproportionately suffering compared to the rest of the country, the city plans to ask the federal government to send out-of-state health care workers to treat patients in the city.

Some facilities that are immediately bringing brought online include the Coler facility on Roosevelt Island, a previously defunct hospital, will be equipped with 350 beds and will be ready to see patients in a week. City officials said that the facility would most likely take patients who need hospitalization but not intensive care. Another facility that will take more patients is a recently built nursing home in Brooklyn, the mayor said. The name of the nursing home was not readily available. The facility would most likely be ready with with 600 beds within the next two weeks.

Other locations include the Westchester Square Medical Center in Bronx, which will have 150 additional beds within the next two weeks, and the North Central Bronx Hospital, which will place 120 beds on to two vacant floors.

Medical facilities a part of the city’s Health + Hospital system, will begin discharging patients more quickly than normal to free up beds and will be canceling all elective surgeries. Hospital higher ups could potentially turn cafeterias and parking lots into makeshift ICU units with tents The city is also working to secure more hotel space to be used to isolate and quarantine city workers that need to be quarantined away from their homes. At the moment, the city has 250 hotel rooms spread out among five small hotels to use at their disposal for quarantining.  The city also announced that there will be five drive-through testing sites for priority patients. It is still unclear where those sites will be in the city.

“This will be a race against time for these new facilities,” said the mayor. “We have no choice to expand rapidly and be ready for anything.”

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