RE: Urgent request for beds, ventilators and intensive care staff for NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst to treat COVID-19 patients
To President Trump and Secretary Azar,
We write to you with an urgent plea to secure additional hospital beds, ventilators and the intensive care staff trained to operate them for NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens to care for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in Queens.
The conditions at Elmhurst and Queens Hospitals are grave. A recent spate of news reports provides a glimpse of the dire scenes front line health care workers are experiencing. COVID-19 patients are dying because the hospital does not have the resources to treat them.
As you know, New York is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States but ground zero is Elmhurst Hospital. It is currently operating well beyond capacity. The numbers change by the minute so we won’t attempt to offer any figures here, save to say that New York accounts for more than half the positive cases nationwide and has about 10 times the number of the next highest state. Within New York, New York City is the hardest hit, and within the city, Queens leads all boroughs in cases and accounts for a third of the city’s COVID-19 deaths.
Queens faces a unique set of challenges. Although it’s the second most populated borough with 2.3 million residents, it has the fewest hospital beds per capita compared to the other boroughs with just 1.66 beds per 1,000 people. For comparison, Brooklyn has 2.18 beds per 1,000 residents and Manhattan has 5.67, according to a February report by the Queens Borough President. Additionally, Queens only has two municipal hospitals while Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx have three. Nor is that offset by hospitals outside the municipal hospital system: Including NYC Health + Hospitals locations, Queens has just nine acute care facilities, while Manhattan has 20 and Brooklyn has 15.
Elmhurst and Queens Hospitals is besieged by this disease. If you speak with any of the staff there, the desperation in their voices is unmistakable. Doctors describe scenes in apocalyptic terms. Patients are reportedly dying in the emergency room still waiting for a bed. Residents line the block, standing inside barricades and in the rain waiting to get tested.
For Council Member Moya, Elmhurst Hospital is admittedly personal. He was born there, later worked there and now proudly represents the medical center. We have no doubt Elmhurst and Queens Hospitals’ award-winning staff can and will save lives, but they need the proper tools to do so. The longer these hospitals wait for resources, the more people will die in Queens. For many, it’s already too late.
Council Member, District 21
Council Member, District 2