City’s public health system to triple ICU capacity and expand personnel as COVID-19 surge continues

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The city is racing to increase capacity and expand personnel at its 11 public hospitals, including Elmhurst Hospital which has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients since last week.

To accommodate the surge in patients, NYC Health + Hospitals is tripling its intensive care units with an aim to bring on a total of 3,000 ICU beds by May 1.

“Our city faces unprecedented challenges in the weeks ahead,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Every ventilator and ICU bed can save a life, which is why we are marshaling every possible resource to our hospitals in record time. Still, the federal government must step up and provide the reinforcements we need. The battle will be long, and we cannot fight it alone.”

Over the past few weeks, the city has leveled the COVOID-19 surge across the system by transferring 193 non-ICU and 43 ICU COVID-19 patients from Elmhurst, Queens, Lincoln, Woodhull, and Kings County hospitals to other public hospitals with more capacity. Each facility identified usable space, based on surge planning exercises that started in February.

“The Governor has called for hospitals to prepare for the surge and New York City’s public hospitals have been more than rising to the challenge of caring for the large number of COVID-19 patients needing intensive care,” NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Michael Katz said. “We’re proud to be able to provide these incredibly important services at this critical moment in our city’s life. And we’ll continue to work with city, state, federal officials and the private health systems in the city to secure as many more beds, health care personnel, and equipment we need to prepare for the peak time of the epidemic which is projected to occur sometime in April or early May.”

Throughout the initial surge, Elmhurst Hospital has added 82 ICU beds, bringing the total available to 111. The hospital will bring on an additional 34 in the coming weeks.

Over the course of the month of April, NYC Health + Hospitals will create nearly 762 ICU beds, more than any other hospital system in the county.

NYC Health + Hospitals has added 165 doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants system-wide, according to officials. An additional 1,000 registered nurses were deployed as of Wednesday, and another 1,000 nurses will be deployed in the next two weeks.

NYC Health + Hospitals will also add another 350 doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants over the course of next week.

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