Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Monday that would relieve overwhelmed New York City hospitals by coordinating the entire state’s bed capacity and staff to prevent the healthcare system from breaking down.
A meeting between the city’s private and public hospitals as well as facilities in the suburbs, including Westchester and Long Island, will result in a plan to be rolled out on Tuesday.
The governor’s announcement came as the state’s death toll from COVID-19 surged to 1,218 on Monday, with no significant abatement seen on the horizon.
“No one hospital has the resources to handle this,” Cuomo said. “No one hospital can do it own’s procurement. No one hospital has enough staff. No one hospital can deal with the capacity. There has to be a totally different operating paradigm where all these different hospitals operate as one system.”
Until now, New York City’s public hospitals have operated under the Health and Hospitals Corp. while the private hospitals are run by the Greater New York Hospital Association. The state Health Department will oversee the coordination of staff, equipment and beds that will also include other hospital systems throughout the state, Cuomo said.
He explained that once a public hospital has reached capacity, patients would go to other public hospitals until all are full. Then the private hospitals will pick up the slack. If a private hospital reaches, other private institutions would step in.
As of Monday, New York City had 37,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than half of the 66,497 cases in the state. Cuomo delivered his daily briefing from the Javits Center in Manhattan, which the Army Corps of Engineers has converted into a temporary hospital with 2,500 beds for non-coronavirus patients. The hospital Navy ship Comfort also arrived in New York Monday with the capacity for another 1,000 patients.
Additionally, a temporary hospital is being set up in each of the four other boroughs.
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said that while the number of hospitalized patients remains quite low, the county will do its part in helping its neighbors, whether the patients come from New York City or other Hudson Valley counties.
On Monday, Westchester had 8,519 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 8,323 still active. There were 221 county residents currently hospitalized, 213 of whom are being cared for in the county.
There have been 19 Westchester residents who have died from the disease.
Westchester currently has 3,017 hospital beds, but if the facilities expand under Cuomo’s mandated 50 percent order, that would increase the county’s capacity to just over 4,500. Another 100 beds would be available at the temporary County Center hospital being set up.
“Any available bed will be used for any sick patient,” Latimer said. “So we can’t look at this and say in Westchester we have a wall built around us in Westchester. And if there’s a need in Greenwich, if there’s a need in Nyack, if there a need in Putnam Valley or Carmel, we’re not going to ignore that need. These empty beds are going to be filled by other people who are sick.”
Latimer said the concentration of cases throughout the county now mirrors the 10 municipalities with the highest population. Yonkers had 508 cases on Monday followed by New Rochelle (346), Greenburgh (272), Mount Vernon (224), White Plains (154), Village of Ossining (132), Port Chester (109), Yorktown (89), Cortlandt (85) and Eastchester and Mount Pleasant (70 each).
In Putnam County, there were 167 confirmed cases on Monday, 70 of which are in Carmel.
Cuomo urged the public to remain vigilant and take the social distancing orders seriously to try and slow the spread.
“First, the public has to be responsible,” he said. “Stay at home. When I issued the stay-at-home order, it wasn’t it would be nice if you did. It is a mandate.”
Cuomo also sent out a plea for more healthcare workers from throughout the state and the nation. Although thousands of retired healthcare professionals have signed up, many doctors have been working without a day off for weeks.
“We need relief, we need relief for nurses who are working 12-hour shifts, one after another after another,” Cuomo said. “We need relief for doctors, we need relief for attendants.”
Latimer on Monday once again defended his decision to keep county parks and golf courses open to the public because it is needed for people’s emotional and physical well-being. However, if people fail to practice social distancing, he would consider shuttering any park if it becomes too crowded.
“I will close by executive authority any individual park where people are not following social distancing,” Latimer said. “It will be a park-by-park decision, not an across-the-board decision.”
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/