The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is going to set up two temporary hospitals on Long Island to treat a surge in coronavirus patients before the pandemic’s projected peak next month.
One of the field hospitals will be at Stony Brook University and the other is coming to SUNY College at Old Westbury. The efforts come as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mandated all hospitals statewide to increase their bed capacity by at least 50 percent. The U.S. Navy is also sending the USS Comfort, its 1,000-bed hospital ship, to New York in the coming weeks.
“We now have 53,000 beds,” Cuomo said of hospital capacity statewide. “We need 110,000 beds.”
The LI hospitals will be set up in field houses and outdoors, with staff to reside in campus dorms. While helpful, the hospitals don’t come with staff, as is the case with temporary hospitals set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which building four 250-bed federal hospitals inside the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan.
“We are going to the entire retired community, health care professionals who are licensed, registered and we’re saying we want you to enlist to help,” Cuomo said. “It’s not a mandatory directive … This is just a request. We put it out. We’ve gotten very good response.”
State officials are also working to increase their intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity from the current 3,000 statewide to between 18,000 and 37,000 to meet anticipated demand for treating patients seriously ill with coronavirus in the coming weeks. The state is also seeking out additional ventilators to meet increased demand.
The efforts come as New York State reported having 20,575 patients test positive for COVID-19 as of Monday morning, including 2,442 in Nassau, 1,458 in Suffolk, and 12,305 in New York City. Thirteen percent of those patients required hospitalization and 621 required ICU beds. There were 157 deaths in New York.
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