New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a clear message earlier this week when he addressed the nation: “I am asking health care professionals across the country – if you don’t have a health care crisis in your community, please come help us in New York now.”
The New York hospital system is quickly reaching a breaking point as nurses and doctors race to save as many patients as they can. The governor issued his plea after another 235 citizens died from COVID-19, bringing the state’s total death toll to 1,218, the deadliest 24 hours since the outbreak began.
If you work as a healthcare provider in an area that has not yet been affected by the virus, consider going to New York to help those in need. See how New York City is coping with the pandemic and how you can make a difference.
Checking in on the NYC Healthcare System
The state of New York continues to be the global epicenter of the virus with most of the cases in and around the NYC area. Of the state’s 41,771 confirmed coronavirus cases, 8,549 have been hospitalized and 1,218 have died.
But Gov. Cuomo insists the worst is still yet to come.
Hospitals across the city are quickly reaching capacity. The National Guard of Engineers has just turned the Jacob K. Javits Center, a major sports arena and convention center, into a makeshift hospital. They are now working on building four more emergency hospitals, one for each borough. Officials have also opened up a tent hospital in the middle of Central Park to help patients in Manhattan find the care they need. The USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, also recently docked in the Hudson River. This massive 1,000-bed ship will be used to care for non-virus patients to ease the burden placed on local hospitals that are currently focused on the pandemic.
Hospital staff are also putting patients up in college dorm rooms, hotels, and other temporary treatment areas to help make room for the ongoing surge in coronavirus patients. Across the city, medical staff have been cancelling elective surgeries, relocating and discharging homeless people that have been staying onsite for months, and rearranging the layouts of various facilities.
Some hospitals have had to combine wards and departments to expand their ICU capacity. For example, Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx had to combine pediatrics and obstetrics to clear up some extra space. Other facilities are trying to relocate psychiatric patients, but these individuals need special accommodations and additional safety measures in place first. The morgues and cemeteries are already overwhelmed with bodies, and the outbreak might not reach its peak for weeks.
Why New York and Why Now?
New York City has been at the forefront of the pandemic since the first cases of the coronavirus arrived from China earlier this year. The city is one of the most densely populated in the world. Germs quickly spread on public transportation, in apartment buildings, and other high-traffic areas, making the outbreak nearly impossible to control.
Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly referred to New York City as the “canary in the coalmine” when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. While NYC may be the epicenter of epidemic right now, the virus will eventually reach less populated areas and more inland cities and states in the weeks and months to come. New statistical modeling shows we’re looking at a staggered pandemic. Various regions will see the apex of the outbreak at different times. That means smaller, more rural cities and hospitals will likely face equipment and staff shortages further down the line, but right now all eyes are on New York City.
If you and your colleagues are watching the outbreak in New York wondering if the same situation could occur in your state or facility, the answer is likely yes.
Over 80,000 volunteer nurses and healthcare workers have already been relocated to the NYC area. However, the city is looking ahead to create what it’s calling a “reserve workforce.” The city desperately needs additional help if it’s going to contain the outbreak. If you’re thinking of helping out the NYC health system, visit the New York Department of Health website to fill out a survey to see if you qualify. The website will give you information on transportation and housing.
The state is also asking for much-needed ventilators and personal protection equipment (PPE). You can click on the link above to sell or donate equipment to New York State. The state is also offering incentives and state funds to companies to get them to manufacture PPE. If you know a company that may be interested, refer them to the link above.
Returning the Favor
The governor said the state of New York will return the favor to facilities and healthcare providers that are willing to make the trip. As the pandemic reaches more U.S. cities and communities, hospitals across the country will likely need additional assistance in the near future. By that time, the situation in New York will likely have been stabilized, which means New York City healthcare professionals and providers will likely travel across the country to help fill in the gaps in these newly hard-hit areas.
If you’re weary about coming to New York to help contain the outbreak, remember that your city will likely suffer the same fate in the weeks and months to come. The governor went on to say, “Today it’s New York, tomorrow it will be somewhere else. This is the time for us to help one another.” Instead of working as separate hospitals and facilities, he suggested, “there has to be a totally different operating paradigm where all those different hospitals are operating as one system.”
As healthcare providers, we may work in different cities and facilities, but we’re all on the same team. Consider helping out those in need before the virus shows up in your hometown.