Brooklyn Hospital unveils coronavirus pre-screening tent

The make-shift outdoor facility at the Brooklyn Hospital Center will be used to pre-screen potentially infected patients.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

As doctors prepare to treat a coming wave of coronavirus patients, the Brooklyn Hospital Center in Fort Greene will begin pre-screening potentially infected patients with basic thermometers and other tools at a new outdoor facility — which will reduce the hospitalized population and ease the load on the healthcare system, said Borough President Eric Adams. 

“As the spread of coronavirus places an enormous strain on our health care system, we must find innovative ways to allocate resources and flatten the curve,” said Adams in a statement. “The Brooklyn Hospital Center’s new pre-screening tent will alleviate the burden on their emergency room, and allow those with the greatest level of need to receive the proper care.”

When the make-shift facility begins operations in front of the hospital’s Ashland Place emergency room on March 18, Brooklynites exhibiting symptoms can receive a quick examination — and those showing severe symptoms, such as trouble breathing, will be diverted to the emergency room. Patients will also be asked about their medical histories, and doctors may send those with pre-existing conditions to the emergency room, even if they show mild or no symptoms, according to officials.

Patients who visit the new facility will be billed as they would for any other hospital screening, officials said at a press conference announcing the new location.

The move comes as medical facilities around the city are dealing with a surge in hospital visits related to the coronavirus — including the Brooklyn Hospital Center, which has already treated three people with the infection. 

As of March 16, the five boroughs have seen 644 confirmed cases of the virus, which has a 19 percent hospitalization rate, according to Adams’s office.

Governor Andrew Cuomo in a letter published on March 15 in the New York Times pleaded with President Donald Trump for federal assistance, saying the state was currently unable to “slow the spread of the disease to a rate that our state health care systems can handle.” 

The Fort Greene hospital’s president, however, said the facility’s staff were working tirelessly to combat the virus’s spread.

“We are working around the clock, and our excellent doctors, nurses, and other providers are diligently keeping up to date with best-practice guidelines, and coming up with solutions, such as this tent for pre-screening,” said Gary Terrinoni. “Together we will get through this.”