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Long Island Private Sector Jobs Fall Nearly 25% Over Year 

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Private sector payroll employment on Long Island fell 22.6 percent in April and nearly 25 percent for the year, bringing the region’s employment to the lowest level in more than two decades.

The loss of 253,600 jobs in April, following a 7,800 drop in March, is a decline that Shital Patel, principal economist for Long island for the New York State Department of Labor, called the ”largest in the history of the current series” dating back to 1990.

The number of private sector jobs on Long Island year over year decreased by 281,900, or 24.5 percent, to 866,400 in April. In other words, one in four Long Island jobs were eliminated, at least temporarily.

The number of private sector jobs state-wide declined 21.4 percent or 1.76 million for the month to 6,467,600 in what the New York State Department of Labor called “the state’s largest monthly employment drop on record.”

The nation’s private sector job count declined by 15.2 percent or about 19.6 million for the month.

Declines on Long Island spanned most industries with hospitality hit among the hardest, losing well over half of its jobs.

“The largest employment decline (for the month) occurred in leisure and hospitality, where employment plunged by 70,300, or 62.1 percent,” Patel said.

Clothing and clothing accessories’ job count on Long Island fell by 70.5 percent, bigger on a percentage basis than the hospitality industry, or 11,700 for the year and 10,900 or 68 percent for the month.

Food services and drinking establishments lost 67.6 percent or 68,900 jobs over the year and declined by 65.2 percent or 61,900 for the month.

And arts, entertainment and recreation shed 12,000 jobs or 54.7 percent for the year, and lost 8,400 or 45.9 percent for the month.

Meanwhile, retail overall shed 25.8 percent or 40,400 jobs for the year and 38,000 or 24.6 percent for the month.

Hospitals lost 2.3 percent or 1,600 jobs for the year and 2,700 jobs or 3.8 percent for the month, while nursing home and residential care facilities lost 3,400 jobs or 9.3 percent for the year and 3,100 jobs or 8.5 percent for the month.

Insurance carriers and related businesses fared among the best, shedding 2.3 percent of jobs or 600 for the year, and dropping 700 jobs or by 2.7 percent for the month.

Finance and insurance on Long Island actually gained 0.6 percent or 300 jobs year over year, but fell by 200 or 0.4 percent from March to April.

And financial activities shed 5.5 percent or 3,800 jobs for the year and 2.8 percent or 1,900 for the month.

The federal government on Long Island, meanwhile, added 200 jobs for the year, growing by 1.3 percent, while remaining flat for the month.

The unemployment rate for April was 14.7 percent nationwide, while it reached 14.2 percent in New York City and 14.7 percent in New York State excluding New York City.

That followed a near historic low for unemployment in March of 4.4 percent for the nation, 4.1 percent for New York State and New York City as well as 4.2 percent for New York State excluding New York City.

Unemployment last April was 3.6 percent nationwide, 4.0 percent in New York State, 4.2 percent in New York City and 3.9 percent in New York State, excluding New York City.

Related Story: Restaurant, Hospitality Workers Fall Through Cracks of Coronavirus Safety Net

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CBS News Names Northwell Doc Senior Medical Reporter

Dr. Tara Narual appearing on CBS.

When Dr. Tara Narula isn’t practicing medicine at Northwell Health, she’ll be appearing on TV as CBS Newssenior medical correspondent.

As medicine becomes an even bigger part of media amid the coronavirus crisis, she has played an increasing role in CBS coverage, culminating in her appointment as a major source of information for the network.

After working as a contributor to CBS This Morning, Narula in her new role will report for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms, including CBS This Morning, the CBS Evening News With Norah O’Donnell, CBS Sunday Morning and CBSN, the network’s around-the-clock streaming service.

She frequently reported on health trends, cardiovascular disease, general health and wellness, more recently answering viewer questions on the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is a board-certified cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan and an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

She joined the Lenox Hill Heart and Vascular Institute in 2010, where she provides outpatient consultative care, also serving as associate director of the Women’s Cardiovascular Disease Center at Lenox Hill Hospital.

After graduating from Stanford University with degrees in economics and biology, she founded and became CEO of Sun Juice Inc.

She then obtained a medical degree at USC Keck School of Medicine, completing her residency in internal medicine at Harvard University/Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her fellowship training in cardiology at New York Presbyterian-Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Narula is a fellow of the American College of Cardiology and a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

Related Story: Michael Dowling of Northwell: Long Island’s Largest Employer

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Restaurant, Hospitality Workers Fall Through Cracks of Coronavirus Safety Net

Not everyone is able to take advantage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security (CARES) Act. (Getty Images)

Long Island is a land that is, in many ways, both rich and poor in restaurants. Whether you want Indian or Italian, Chinese or continental cuisine, there have always been more options than you can count. 

When restaurants closed their seating areas to comply with coronavirus restrictions, although some continued with or added delivery and curbside pickup, it caused more than places to eat to disappear. An industry nearly vanished in an instant. Thousands of jobs disappeared as if a switch had been turned off and a massive industry contracted, with some workers falling through the cracks in the safety net.

“It’s hard to try and define who people are without a safety net right now,” says Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, one of two regional food banks along with Island Harvest. “There are people in the restaurant industry who have been laid off. People in the hospitality industry are being laid off.” 

There were 119,400 jobs in leisure and hospitality and 96,200 in food services and drinking places in March on Long Island before the economy closed or collapsed, according to the New York State Department of Labor. Today, though, some of the people who fed the Island are facing their own financial struggles as an already vulnerable industry takes a hit.

Jeffrey Reynolds, CEO of Family and Children’s Association (FCA), a large nonprofit social services organization based in Mineola, says many workers who helped feed the region have found themselves in financial distress with little savings.

“Some of them are not able to do delivery. They were washing dishes or busboys. You saw their bikes locked up outside. Those jobs were eliminated,” Reynolds says. “They don’t necessarily have a license or a car.”

While the federal government has put in place programs and expanded and extended unemployment, some workers were off the books, undocumented, or simply afraid that claiming benefits to which they’re entitled could lead to problems.

“They might think that using services available to them will cause a problem in the process of getting the residency or citizenship,” says Mayra Correa, a family support supervisor at FCA, noting that all immigrants have the right to many services.

The hospitality industry also has been impacted, with the Long Island Marriott closing temporarily, leaving many workers with little savings and hardly any safety net.

“We’re seeing a lot of independent contractors who have no work right now. Construction industry, truckers,” Pachter adds. “They’re self-employed. If you’re running a small business and trying to make ends meet, what are you supposed to do?”

Pachter, for instance, was approached in a parking lot by a trucker looking for work, as a kind of economic epidemic compounded the trucker’s medical one. LI’s and the nation’s growing gig economy, where people go from assignment to assignment, went from promising freedom to bigger problems.

Long Island Cares’ satellites that distribute food have seen a 64 percent increase in people seeking food, including a 30 percent rise in the number using their services for the first time. About 7,400 people in March sought food, including 2,300 who had never turned to them before.

Homeless Long Islanders, often not visible from the streets, in parks, often are out of reach of the system, living in the woods. Long Island Cares delivers food to 400 homeless people a month, but Pachter believes the number is down amid this crisis.

“Many people are scared to death, so they are reaching out to family and social services,” he says. “There are still a lot of people there.”

Some restaurants and businesses may not reopen or may reopen with fewer employees, so some jobs will remain lost.

“I don’t see all of these jobs coming back to life overnight,” Reynolds says. “I would guess that a fair amount of restaurants, stores and businesses that closed will probably stay closed.”

Even when businesses reopen, jobs may not reopen to the same people as the economy rebounds.

“You may see folks who work in these jobs squeezed out by people who worked in retail at stores that didn’t open again,”  Reynolds says.

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Northwell Discharges 10,000th COVID-19 Patient 

Northwell Health photo.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis as officials and individuals grapple with consequences and concerns and push for progress, Northwell Health announced a hopeful number, recently discharging its 10,000th coronavirus patient.

The New Hyde Park-based hospital system discharged the patient with a celebration, amid masked healthcare workers holding signs with rainbows and messages. One sign said “We Luv U” and another said “Here comes the sun” near a picture of the sun and a rainbow sharing one space, as healthcare workers showed appreciation to patients for their struggle even as many others show support for healthcare workers.

“Based on the data we’ve seen, Northwell has treated more COVID-19 patients than any other health system in the nation,” Northwell President CEO Michael Dowling said in a written statement. “Crossing the threshold of 10,000 discharges represents a positive moment in this ongoing fight.”

The ritural was reassuring at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mt. Kisco, one of 23 run by Northwell, mixing relief, a sense of rebirth, and a reminder that, amid tragedy and loss, there are triumphs as well. And it was an opportunity to celebrate success and reinvigorate healthcare staff as well as celebrate an individual patient’s journey out of the hospital.

Northwell has cared for nearly 13,000 patients on Long Island, in New York City, and Westchester,  nearly 20 percent of all COVID-19 patients hospitalized in New York State, according to the system.

And it has treated more than 41,000 COVID-19 patients including those seen in emergency departments, 52 Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care centers and physician offices. The healthcare system conducted about 52,000 telehealth visits as the Food and Drug Administration loosened regulations, allowing telemedicine to become a key tool amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Northwell hospitals added nearly 2,000 additional beds in less than two weeks after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for hospitals to expand, increasing its hospital capacity by about 50 percent. 

The system also oversaw clinical operations at the 1,000-bed field hospital staffed by Army clinicians at the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan and the 1,000-bed USNS Comfort Navy hospital ship that docked at Pier 90 in Manhattan.

While this ritual marked a hopeful milestone, the battle and the struggles continue for many patients and healthcare providers.

Northwell Health at the time of the release of the 10,000th patient a few days ago was providing care for 1,203 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, a still large number, but down 65 percent from the peak of 3,425 on April 7.

Northwell Health is the state’s largest health care provider and private employer, with 23 hospitals, nearly 800 outpatient facilities and more than 14,200 affiliated physicians. 

 The system cares for more than 2 million people annually and employs 72,000, including more than 17,000 nurses and 4,500 physicians.

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Long Island Health CEOs Take Pay Cuts To Keep Businesses Afloat

Dr. Raj Raina, president, CEO, and owner of Medical Associates, is among local business leaders taking pay cuts amid the pandemic.

Dr. Raj Raina, president, CEO, and owner of Medical Associates, based in Hauppauge, has been taking care of patients — and his practice. 

A primary care doctor who runs the six-site, multispecialty practice, he has kept Medical Associates’ doctors, nurses, and staff busy treating COVID-19 patients as he puts his own pay on pause. And he’s not alone among doctors in private practice on Long Island who are making sacrifices to keep their doors open.

“I personally have not taken a paycheck for the last couple of paychecks; I’m living off my savings,” Dr. Raina says, noting that his wife, a nurse, is receiving a paycheck for helping to run the COVID-19 test center at Jones Beach State Park. “Once they opened in Jones Beach, she was one of the first to be there. She’s a coleader there, scheduling patients.”

While healthcare providers and hospitals are on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, physicians without the resources of hospitals are facing financial and medical challenges, sometimes making financial sacrifices.

“We’re living right now on income we produced in the past, hoping the government gives us some help,” Dr. Raina says, saying that his 79-person practice didn’t get help from the first tranche of funds. “It’s very hard in our industry to train people.”

Many physician practices face financial troubles, according to a survey by the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY). The society says 83 percent of respondents saw patient volume drop by more than half, while 80 percent’s revenue fell by at least half since the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The impact has devastated practices and the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers they employ,” says Dr. Art Fougner, president of MSSNY. “Many doctors are working alone or with a skeleton staff.”

More than a quarter had to lay off or furlough more than half of their employees and about two thirds applied for forgivable loans, but most hadn’t received help before the first round of funding closed.

“Our first priority remains to ensure that our patients, through the crisis, can continue to receive the care they need,” Dr. Fougner continues. “But we need to know if our practices can keep their doors open for patients now and in the future.”

Other healthcare providers, also considered essential, are taking steps to keep producing, as CEOs reduce or suspend their compensation or pay employees who are unable to work.

Hauppauge-based American Diagnostic Corporation, which employs 117 on Long Island, makes thermometers, stethoscopes, blood pressure instruments, pulse oximeters used to measure oxygen, and other medical devices.

“Our products are experiencing an unprecedented level of demand unlike anything we’ve experienced in our 35 years,” ADC CEO Marc Blitstein says. “We have shipped nearly 1 million diagnostic instruments to our distributors since mid-February.”

He says about 30 plant workers are on paid leave out of concerns for coronavirus exposure. “We’re utilizing temps where possible and lots of overtime to meet demand,” Blitstein says.

ADC transitioned many workers to paid leave at home, including the elderly and vulnerable, although manufacturing continues, and took measures to make the workplace safer, including spacing, safety equipment, and other steps.

Melville-based Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman, who received $14.4 million in compensation last year, including about $1.5 million in salary, isn’t taking a salary from April 6 to June 30. Several other Schein executives are temporarily cutting their salary in half and board members are taking a temporary 25 percent cut.

Other CEOS have been taking cuts or suspending their salary, such as Ron Loveland, president of Summit Safety and Efficiency Solutions in Miller Place. 

“I stopped taking a paycheck to be able to pay my team,” Loveland says.

Ernie Canadeo, CEO of The EGC Group in Melville, temporarily stopped taking a salary once he closed the office and cut the rent that he, as landlord, charges his company. Canadeo, whose firm received a forgivable SBA payroll loan, says the loan is “a tremendous help, while business is down substantially.”

The federal government, meanwhile, made it easier for physicians to do virtual visits, increasing patient and provider safety, but Raina said that typically leads to $50 reimbursements.

“We’re mostly getting patients who have COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Raina says, adding that most are virtual visits. “Our revenue came mostly from stress tests, echocardiograms, and allergy tests.”

Dr. Raina is still getting funds from previous work, since insurer payments typically lag two months behind.

“I don’t want to lose employees,” Dr. Raina says. “They know what they’re doing. I would not want to start again. I’ve tried to keep everyone going. If I go through this year without a loss, I will think it is a good thing for me. I’m not sure that’s going to happen, though.”

Related Story: Some Long Island Companies Thrive in Pandemic Economy

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Bill Would Forgive Student Debt For COVID-19 Healthcare Workers

Physician Aliea Herbert administers a test for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to a patient at Interbay Village, a village of tiny houses managed by the Low Income Housing Institute, at a mobile testing site run by Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, U.S. April 29, 2020. REUTERS/David Ryder

Signs, applause, and donations are among the many thanks healthcare heroes are getting for their response to the coronvirus pandemic, but a bill introduced in Congress this week takes it a step further by proposing healthcare workers have their student debt forgiven.

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- Manhattan) along with nine Democrats as co-sponsors introduced Tuesday the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act. No companion bill has yet been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

“Healthcare workers are worrying about their own health and how it will affect their families,” Maloney said in a statement. “They should not have to worry about their financial security after the crisis has passed.”

The legislation would forgive private and federal student loans taken by physicians, medical residents, and many healthcare professionals caring for COVID-19 patients. The bill also would apply to researchers working to find a cure and vaccine for the disease.

There would be no compensation related to money already paid and debt forgiven could not be considered as income subject to taxes. The federal government would pay back the remainder owed to private lenders, erasing remaining principal and interest.

The bill comes at a time when some medical schools already such as the NYU School of Medicine shifted to tuition-free education out of a concern that high costs keep many would-be doctors from entering the profession.

“New York physicians have been on the frontlines since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, risking their lives,” said Dr. Art Fougner, president of the Westbury-based Medical Society of the State of New York. “We urge the U.S. Congress to incorporate these ideas into its next stimulus package that is currently under development.”

Many healthcare providers accumulate substantial, even massive, debt, which adds financial stress to the pressures of their job.

“Graduate student loan forgiveness would alleviate their financial burdens and acknowledge their sacrifice during this unprecedented time,” said Eileen Sullivan-Marx, dean of the NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and President of the American Academy of Nursing.

Nicole Kirchhoffer, a registered nurse, also said on top of concerns over spreading COVID-19 to their families, healthcare providers face financial concerns.

“Putting my life in imminent danger to provide care for those inflicted with COVID-19 while having graduate student loan debt looming over me and my family is psychologically distressing and distracting in a time where I need to be more focused than ever,” she said.

The legislation is endorsed by the American College of Emergency Physicians, American Medical Association, American Federation of Teachers, Association of American Medical Colleges.

“Hazard pay is nice, but it pales in comparison to the immense student loan debt accrued by the majority of physicians and nurses in this country,” said Dr. Manuel Penton III, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.

The bill would create a commission to review applications from borrowers and determine which frontline applicants are eligible for loan forgiveness. The text of the legislation indicates healthcare workers could qualify regardless of the amount of time spent on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.

Standards would be set and decisions made based on whether a person “has made significant contributions to the medical response to the qualifying emergency for purposes of determining whether the individual is a frontline healthcare worker.” The bill also establishes an appeal process, so healthcare workers can challenge denials, by providing more information and challenging conclusions.

Frontline healthcare workers, according to the legislation, would include doctors, medical residents, medical interns, nurses, home healthcare workers, mental health professionals, various other healthcare professionals, laboratory workers, and emergency medical service providers.

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor, as well as the Committee on Financial Services and Ways and Means Committee.

Cosponsors of the legislation in the House include U.S. Reps. Steven Cohen (D-Tenn.), Jahana Hayes (D-Cocc.), Ilhan Omar (D-Min.), Marc Veasey (D-Tx.), Jesús G. Garía (D-Il.), Derek Kilmer (D-Wa.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY).

Related Story: With Cheers, NY Nurses Greet Reinforcements From Across U.S.

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Peconic Bay Medical Center Expanding Into Former Catholic High School

Peconic Bay Medical Center

In a move that will further expand healthcare on Long Island’s East End, the Peconic Bay Medical Center has acquired the building and campus of a shuttered Catholic high school in Riverhead.

Northwell Health said the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation, the fundraising arm of the medical center, acquired the property and buildings of McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School from the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

Northwell Health didn’t give the terms of the transaction for the 24-acre property occupied by Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School, which closed in 2018.

Peconic Bay Medical Center President and CEO Andrew Mitchell said the medical center and foundation look forward to working with the “Town of Riverhead to develop future plans recognizing the growing and diverse health care needs of the East End.”

Emilie Roy Corey, chair of the foundation’s Board, said the center is “planning for the continuation of service to the community with much needed expanded healthcare services.”

The Peconic Bay Medical Center already has been expanding, recently opening the Corey Critical Care Pavilion and Kanas Regional Heart Center, seeking to bolster serves on Long Island’s East End.

Founded in 1951 as Central Suffolk Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center is a 182-bed hospital in Riverhead with about 1,500 employees and a wide range of services, including a cardiac catherization laboratory, a Level III trauma center and a New York State-designated stroke center.

The medical center, which in 2016 became a part of Northwell Health, also operates a 60-bed skilled nursing and rehabilitation center, a home health agency and ambulatory, and urgent care facilities in Manorville.

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Northwell Testing Heartburn Drug Ingredient As COVID-19 Treatment

Northwell Health researchers are studying a heartburn drug ingredient in treating coronavirus patients.

New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health more than a month ago quietly began a clinical trial of famotodine, an ingredient used in heartburn drug Pepcid, to treat COVID-19 patients.

The 23-hospital system began providing the ingredient intravenously at nine times the dose used to treat heartburn, according to an article in Sciencemag.com. The system said it didn’t announce this trial at the time, even as it announced others, out of a concern that widely publicizing it could lead to problems in securing an intravenous version of the ingredient, after seeing demand surge for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

“If we talked about this to the wrong people or too soon, the drug supply would be gone,” Dr. Kevin Tracey, CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Northwell Health’s research arm, told ScienceMag.com in an article published Sunday.

This study is in addition to two other clinical trials for coronavirus treatments being conducted at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research that Northwell announced in March.

That website indicated nearly 200 COVID-19 patients in critical status, including those on ventilators, already have been given the medication intravenously as part of a clinical trial targeting nearly 1,200 patients.

Northwell funded the clinical trial initially on its own, after which the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) provided Florida-based Alchem Laboratories, a medication manufacturer, with $20.7 million to help with the research.

Northwell Health is using an intravenous version of the ingredient rather than the over-the-counter medication used for heartburn. Limited research in China seemed to indicate patients with heartburn on famotidine died at a lower rate than those not on the drug, an observation far from a clinical trial that could result from other factors. Computer modeling also indicated that several dozen medications, including famotidine, could show promise.

Northwell Health ran into an unusual situation as it sought to do a clinical trial of this drug. Since so many people at the time the trial began were being given hydroxychloroquine, itself an unproved treatment, the healthcare system found it needed to include patients receiving that medication in its trial.

Northwell Health is using patients receiving famotidine and hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine only and patients treated earlier with neither.

The clinical trial has been continuing with results expected to be reported soon.

“If it does work,” Tracey told Sciencemag.com, “we’ll know in a few weeks.”

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Related Story: Northwell Health Initiates Clinical Trials of 2 COVID-19 Drugs

Related Story: FDA OKs Garden City-Based Beyond Air’s Clinical Trial For A New COVID-19 Treatment

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Nurses From Around U.S. Lend Hand As Oxygen, Gown Needs Grow

Northwell Health workers welcomed 46 nurses from across the country to North Shore LIJ Hospital in New Hyde Park. Northwell Health photo.
Nurses from Upstate New York and around the nation are providing some relief to Long Island hospital staff who face large numbers of patients in need of care, even as demand grows for portable oxygen tanks and hospital gowns.
 
Telehealth restrictions have been loosened and credentialing guidelines have been eased, allowing out-of-state nurses, physicians and others to practice in New York State.
 
“This alleviates one burden for the hospitals,” said Kevin Dahill, president and CEO of the Suburban Hospital Alliance.
 
Forty-six nurses from across the country have been placed by Cross Country Nurses, a staffing agency, at the Northwell Health System. Another 22 nurses from the Upstate University Hospital are now working alongside other nurses at Stony Brook University. And upstate hospitals and systems such as Cayuga Health entered into staff leasing arrangements with a New York City-based system, alleviating some of the strain on the workforce.
 
The New York State Department of Health meanwhile has assembled a volunteer pool of 80,000 healthcare workers who answered Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call to work in the state.
 
“Both hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state are able to draw from this pool, which is coordinated with the assistance of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS),” according to a written statement from the Suburban Hospital Alliance.
 
The state health department reviews licensing and credentialing of workers who come from out of state to work in New York. 
 
HANYS helped facilitate hospitals’ access to the pool, known as NYServes, and to bring in LinkedIn to assist in managing it. About 7,000 workers have been vetted by the state.
 
The Alliance, however, said, there “continues to be a demand for gowns and masks at the region’s hospitals.”
 
“We are hearing that gowns are in need,” according to Janine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Alliance. “With hospitals running at full capacity, staff are donning and doffing gowns at an accelerated pace. A shortage of impermeable isolation gowns has developed.”
 
Supply needs and availability shift with the patient population, caseload and demand from other parts of the country, according to the group.
 
There is also an increasing need for portable oxygen tanks as some COVID-19 patients eligible for discharge require oxygen to continue their recovery at home, the group added.
 
“Patients who experienced respiratory difficulties while in the hospital, but whose issues did not require the level of a ventilator, are now improving and recovering,” Logan said. “These individuals are discharged and sent home, but still need portable oxygen to continue their recovery.”
 
Discharges from hospitals are fueling portable oxygen needs and a need for the equipment to provide the oxygen. There is a limited number of suppliers of this equipment, and facilities need the same product.
 
The Alliance said hundreds of waivers have been approved by the state and the federal government to loosen restriction on hospitals and other healthcare providers, while  “meeting all quality and infection control standards and state and federal oversight requirements,” according to the Alliance.
 
New York State has set up a hospital coordination center to manage the needs of workers from out of state.
 
Cuomo also is using state-owned college dormitories for various purposes related to the pandemic.
 
The federal government’s coronavirus website and New York State Department of Health website provide additional information for healthcare providers and the public.
 
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Find additional coronavirus coverage at longislandpress.com/coronavirus

Long Island Researchers Studying Immune System Overreaction in Most Severe COVID-19 Cases

The researchers are looking at whether “overactive immune cells” produce Neutrophil Extracellular Traps or NETs, which may be responsible for the most severe cases.

Researchers on Long Island are looking at whether the body’s own immune system’s overreaction can be leading to the most severe COVID-19 cases, which could open the door to different treatments.

Northwell Health, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and nine other medical research institutions are studying whether an overreaction by white blood cells may cause the most severe cases of coronavirus, potentially leading to additional treatments.

The researchers are looking at whether “overactive immune cells” produce Neutrophil Extracellular Traps or NETs, which may be responsible for the most severe cases.

The group of institutions, known as the NETwork, on Long Island includes Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

A paper published last week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded that patients with COVID-19 infection sometimes develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome  or ARDS, pulmonary inflammation, thick mucus secretions in the airways, extensive lung damage and blood clots. 

“This late stage of the disease is difficult to manage,” according to Northwell. “In the worst cases, patients require invasive mechanical ventilation, and still, a large number of patients die.”

This condition, however, may result from overactive white blood cells or neutrophils that, in the body’s effort to battle the infection, can damage lungs and other organs.

“We propose that excess NETs may play a major role in the disease,” said Betsy Barnes, lead author of the paper and professor at the Feinstein Institutes. “It will be important to determine whether the presence of NETs associates with disease severity and/or particular clinical characteristics of COVID-19.”

NETs can lead to mucus in cystic fibrosis patients’ airways and acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in flu or influenza.

If findings show excess NETs cause severe symptoms of COVID-19, Northwell said a new “avenue of treatments may be deployed to help COVID-19 patients,” reducing the need for intubation.

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