A half dozen hospitals on Long Island have been termed corornavirus hot spots with some of the greatest totals of COVID-19 patient hospitalizations in the New York Metro area, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.
Hospitals on LI that the governor flagged as coronavirus hot spots were North Shore University Hospital (NSUH) in Manhasset, NYU Winthrop Hospital in Mineola, Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) in New Hyde Park, Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip, Stony Brook University Hospital, and St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn.
“We now track on a nightly basis how many people go into what facility so we can track the increase in what’s happening,” the governor said while explaining how a hospital gets dubbed a coronavirus hot spot facility.
“You see an increase in New York City … you also see and increase on Long Island, which is something we’re concerned about,” he said. “Long Island does not have as elaborate a healthcare system as New York City. We don’t have the same amount of resources on Long Island. And you see an increase in cases on Long Island and that has us very concerned.”
LI has 23 hospitals — 11 in Nassau County and 12 in Suffolk County — serving a combined population of 2.8 million. By comparison, New York City has 214 hospitals serving 8.6 million residents. The only other two hospitals flagged as hot spots were New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan and Bronxcare Hospital Center.
Nassau had 1,619 coronavirus hospitalizations as of Thursday and Suffolk had 1,298 hospitalized COVID-19 patients of as Friday. Nassau had 403 coronavirus patients in intensive care units Thursday and Suffolk had 401 in ICU on Friday.
A spokesman for Northwell Health, which runs North Shore University Hospital, Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and 21 other hospitals, agreed that the two are hot spots. He said LIJ had 568 COVID-19 patients and NSUH had 573 as of Friday morning.
Patrick O’Shaughnessy, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which operates St. Francis Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, and four other hospitals, said they are prepared for the surge. He said there are 600 confirmed patients and 180 more awaiting tests at the system’s six hospitals.
“Right now we are able to meet patients’ need within our system,” he said. “Going forward, all options will be considered with our health care colleagues.”
Dr. James Vosswinkel, medical director of the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) at Stony Brook University Hospital, said his team is forging ahead undeterred.
“We have no fear, we’re not going to get overwhelmed,” he said. “Everyone who walks into the hospital, including the housekeepers, the pharmacy techs, the laboratory techs, everyone … they’re all doing this as a team, and doing the right things to help our patients. If we get sick, we accept it. We’re not hiding from this; we accept the challenge.”
A representative for NYU Winthrop Hospital did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Cuomo’s designation. A breakdown of diagnosed patients at Winthrop and Stony Brook was not immediately available.
COVID-19 cases on LI rose to 22,178 on Friday: 12,024 in Nassau and 10,154 in Suffolk. Nassau had its third consecutive day of diagnoses increasing by more than 1,000 Friday and Suffolk’s rose by the same rate for the second day in a row.
The state has mandated hospitals increase bed space by 50 percent and the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers is building temporary hospitals in Stony Brook and Old Westbury to help meet demand ahead of the peak of the virus expected by mid-April. Cuomo also said Friday that he would deploy the National Guard to acquire ventilators and supplies from hospitals with surplus equipment and bring the gear to medical centers facing supply shortages.
“Our healthcare workers, we all know now, are stretched almost to the limit and they need relief,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran told reporters Thursday. Four of the six hot spot hospitals are in Nassau.
To help ease the burden, Curran said she is calling for the temporary hospital that federal authorities are building at SUNY College at Old Westbury be able to take coronavirus patients and not just non-COVID-19 patients, as has been discussed. She said local hospital leaders agreed. They were encouraged by recent news that the federal temporary hospital set up at the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan is now being allowed to accept coronavirus patients after officials initially said it would only treat non-COVID-19 patients.
“The consensus is it needs to be COVID so we can get relief for our hospitals,” Curran said of the Old Westbury hospital, noting that she anticipates it going online by the end of next week.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said he’d like to see the same for the temporary federal hospital being built at Stony Brook University.
“Those facilities need to be utilized in the best way possible in order to save lives,” he said.
“We know that they are operating in an environment that essentially is the medical equivalent of a war zone,” Bellone added, noting how healthcare workers remain concerned about a lack of personal protective equipment. “Supplies continue to be limited.”
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