Hospitals scramble to keep up with demand

News Staff
Posted 4/2/20

According to county executive Steve Bellone, hospital bed numbers are starting to pick up as part of the governor’s executive order. But it’s not just beds that need to more than …

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Hospitals scramble to keep up with demand


According to county executive Steve Bellone, hospital bed numbers are starting to pick up as part of the governor’s executive order. But it’s not just beds that need to more than doubled, he said; it’s equipment and most importantly, staffing.

“We have these doctors and nurses on the front lines; everyone is part of the operations,” Bellone said. “In many ways they are doing courageous and heroic work, but they do need our support.” As of this week, the county has a total of 2,710 beds with 575 avail- able and 322 ICU beds. Gov. Andrew Cuomo also called for medical professionals in states with not as critical numbers as New York to help in New York’s efforts. Then, when the time comes, New York’s medical professionals will aid those states in their fight as well.

“It’s a significant increase and we are really going to see those numbers climb over the coming days,” Bellone added.

Northwell Health

Northwell Health currently has over 5,500 beds system wide, which according to a Northwell spokesperson, is a sufficient capacity, though they are making preparations to respond to surge capacity.

“We are continually identifying other areas in our hospitals that can be converted to treat critical care patients,” said spokesperson Alexandra Zendrian. “We have discharged patients to open up capacity and the cancellation of elective surgeries reduced inpatient volume as well.”

As for their ventilator supply and PPE equipment, Northwell said they are confident they have an adequate supply. They have also received supplies from New York State and have been distributing them to each of their hospitals, including Southside Hospital in Islip.

Long Island Community Hospital

As the community is in the middle of an unprecedented health care challenge, Richard T. Margulis, president and chief executive officer of Long Island Community Hospital, reached out to the community, letting them know the hospital has deepened their emergency management plan to address the needs of patients and employees.

“The exposure to coronavirus has grown exponentially since the first patient was seen in Suffolk County, and we want you to feel reassured that our hospital’s COVID-19 Task Force is constantly making critical decisions to ensure that we can care for those who need our hospital today and in the weeks to come,” he wrote in a letter to the community. “Our doctors and nurses are the true heroes at Long Island Community Hospital and they will play a significant role in the course of how this virus affects our community.”

He also added that the hospital is committed to supply personnel with the appropriate personal protective equipment and supplies and that they are grateful for every single supply they have in inventory. Additionally, when the hospital purchased supplies, he explained, they had no idea just how valuable they would become.

Thus far, he said, LI Community has complied with Gov. Cuomo’s plans to double capacity, with an emergency management plan in place since the end of January. The hospital currently operates with about 205 medical beds with plans to increase by another 100; the hospital, Margulis said, is currently staffed for that amount. He eventually plans to see the hospital support upwards of 400 beds, but would require additional staff and equipment to do so. The hospital is currently seeing an increase in patients who are either COVID-19 confirmed or suspected, who are being treated in special units.

“We are going to continue to see an uptick in those numbers,” he said.

The hospital is also continuing to build up their personal protective equipment, including masks, gowns, soap and face shields. Margulis said that he has put in requests for equip- ment from the county and state and is attempting to purchase additional pieces from factories overseas. As for ventilators, the hospital currently has about 60 and is requesting an additional 15 from the state. Also, he said, the clinical staff is looking at ways to safely “split” the ventilators to service two patients.

As for the hospital’s staff, he explained that the hospital has implemented several coping assistance measures.

“These people are our heroes,” he said of his medical staff. “They are doing a phenomenal job. No one could imagine in 2020 we would be facing this type of pandemic. Of course, this is taking a toll on our staff, but they are working fearlessly and hard.”

Visitor policy

Both hospitals have implemented a zero-visitor policy. However, a parent or guardian can accompany a child, and the significant other of a pregnant woman who is delivering is also permitted. Also, one visitor is allowed in the NICU.


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