The city will add thousands of medical beds to Brooklyn’s hospitals over the course of April to accommodate the influx of COVID-19 patients, officials said.
Authorities will place 400 medical beds and nearly 150 intensive-care-unit beds across the borough’s three public hospitals — Coney Island Hospital, Kings County Hospital, and Woodhull Medical Center — by May 1, the mayor’s office announced on Thursday.
City health officials have hired more than 1,000 nurses and 165 doctors, physician’s assistants, and nurse-practitioners citywide, and authorities plan to deploy at least 1,000 more in the next two weeks, according to the city’s top health expert.
“The governor has called for hospitals to prepare for the surge, and New York City’s public hospitals have been more than rising to the challenge,” said President and Chief Executive of NYC Health + Hospitals Mitchell Katz, MD. “We will continue to work with city, state, federal officials and the private health systems in the city to secure as many more beds, health care personnel and equipment we need to prepare for the peak time of the epidemic which is projected to occur sometime in April or early May.”
The city also plans to open several makeshift hospital facilities, including one at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook slated to open mid-April that will house 750 medical beds. It has not yet been determined whether the center will treat COVID-19 patients or hospital patients without the virus, officials said.
The largest addition of hospital beds, though, will come from 20 hotels citywide whose beds will be converted into hospital wards, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced. The city, which is renting the spaces, has gained 10,000 medical beds from the deal, although officials have not disclosed the hotels, their locations, or the project’s timeline.
The citywide additions come as hospitals surge with new patients and supplies run low. A shortage of protective gear, such as gloves and face masks, has caused a spike in coronavirus cases among hospital staff, employees suspect.
To treat the infected healthcare workers, a group of bi-partisan southern Brooklyn lawmakers called on the city to open a testing site in Bay Ridge for first responders and medical workers.
“Our offices have heard from many first responders & essential workers and their family members that they have been refused tests at other testing sites in the city,” reads the April 2 letter signed by eight pols — Councilman Justin Brannan, State Senators Andrew Gounardes and Diane Savino, Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Assemblymembers Mathylde Frontus, Nicole Malliotakis, Peter Abbate and Felix Ortiz.
“We need to get them tested and keep them protected, not just as a symbolic thank you, but in recognition of the fact that our city and state’s whole response to this pandemic falls apart if we cannot rely on their lifesaving work,” the group wrote.
City health officials, however, suggested that the testing site, if erected, could only be available to public hospital workers, because of the limited availability of COVID-19 tests.
“We are only testing those who are hospitalized and our employees,” said Christopher Miller, the senior director for media relations at NYC Health + Hospitals.