Coronavirus: Doctors at NYC hospital describe ‘apocalyptic’ situation


Doctors at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York City, have described the battle against the novel coronavirus as “apocalyptic,” and said that some patients have died waiting to receive treatment at the crowded facility. 

According to The New York Times, the 545-bed public hospital has been overwhelmed by patients with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

As of Wednesday evening, New York had over 33,000 confirmed coronavirus cases — more than the entire nation of France — and 366 deaths.

At least 280 of those deaths occurred in New York City, which now accounts for 60% of new COVID-19 cases in the US.

According to The Times, doctors at Elmhurst are struggling to treat patients with a limited number of ventilators, the machine needed to keep severe COVID-19 patients alive. Some have died in the emergency room waiting for empty beds, the Times said.

“It’s apocalyptic,” a 27-year-old general medicine resident at Elmhurst told The Times.

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Medical staff at Elmhurst Hospital Center on March 21, 2020.

John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images


The City of New York said on Wednesday that it had received 400 ventilators from the federal government, but that it needed 15,000 more “as soon as possible.” 

Experts have warned that the US faces a shortage of critical supplies in the months ahead as the number of cases continues to grow

One estimated that about a million Americans may need ventilator treatment during the coronavirus outbreak, straining the country’s resources even if all those cases do not overlap.

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Tents have been set up outside of Elmhurst Hospital to test people for COVID-19.

Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images


Beyond respirators, the hospital is also facing a mounting body count and limited capacity to store them.

New York City’s public hospital system said in a statement that 13 people died at Elmhurst Hospital within 24 hours and that the hospital was now “at the center of this crisis.

According to The Times, a refrigerated truck has been stationed outside the hospital to hold dead bodies.

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People are seen lining up for COVID-19 testing at Elmhurst Hospital, on March 21, 2020.

John Nacion/NurPhoto via Getty Images


Photos from outside Elmhurst show long lines of people waiting to be tested. According to The Times, people begin lining up to be tested as early as 6 a.m.

Elmhurst Hospital and NYC Health + Hospitals did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. 

This week, President Donald Trump announced new measures to help New York expand its healthcare capacity, including deploying a 1,000-bed US Navy hospital ship

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that more than 620 patients with COVID-29 have ended up in ICUs around the state. Beds may soon fill up as the number of confirmed cases in New York City continues to grow. 

“We have several floors now that are devoted only to COVID-positive patients,” Dr. Ben McVane, an emergency room doctor at Elmhurst Hospital, told ABC 7 New York on Wednesday.

“We’re finding ourselves getting close to being overwhelmed by patients.”


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