U.S. Senator Charles Schumer vowed Thursday to fight for more federal funding for Putnam Hospital, which has lost more than $21 million since the coronavirus pandemic erupted in March.
During a visit to the medical facility in Carmel, Schumer said Putnam Hospital “sort of fell through the cracks” during a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “Hot Spot” funding round in early May when it received $3 million, while 19 other hospitals in Westchester, Putnam and Rockland each were given more than $36 million.
“It’s a mean, nasty, horrible virus,” Schumer said outside the front entrance of the hospital, flanked by administrators, doctors and nurses. “The doctors, nurses and staff at Putnam Hospital have made incredible sacrifices throughout this pandemic, putting public health above profit and working ceaselessly to help the Hudson Valley beat back the virus and flatten the curve. Despite these incredible sacrifices, Putnam Hospital has not yet seen its fair share of federal emergency aid that I specifically negotiated into the CARES Act and fought for in the Interim ‘Corona 3.5’ package for them.”
To adequately treat approximately300 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 with reduced resources, Putnam Hospital has had to spend more than $500,000 to obtain Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), supplies and other critical equipment, put a halt to capital spending, defer expenses and outfit the hospital to provide a safe environment.
“Putnam Hospital has not received a substantial payment from the HHS Provider Relief Fund since April all while some of our neighboring hospitals down the road have gotten millions,” said Peter Kelly, president of Putnam Hospital. “Our dedicated nurses, doctors and staff have worked around the clock for months to care for our patients, and additional resources to support them will go a long way as we continue to fight this pandemic each day here in Putnam County.”
Putnam Hospital was once again overlooked when more specialized funding was announced by the HHS last week. New York has recorded more than 407,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including about 70,000 in the Hudson Valley region.
Schumer penned a letter to HHS Secretary xxx Azar requesting that Putnam Hospital and two dozen other hospitals that were shortchanged be considered for a portion of $60 billion that remains from the $175 billion Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund that Schumer championed in negotiating the CARES Act.
“If HHS saw the months of tireless work that has taken place at Putnam Hospital, they would know right away that they need to reassess their arbitrary formula that has left employees with dwindling PPE, testing kits, and other critical resources that are needed on the frontlines,” Schumer said. “I will fight very hard for this hospital to get the money.”
Schumer, who noted he plans to address the situation when he returns to Washington Monday, responded to a reporter’s question about the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic by saying officials should be transparent with the facts.
“We have not listened to the science in this country. Dr. Fauci is the best expert we have. We ought to listen to him. To muzzle him is counterproductive,” he said. “Politics should not interfere.”