New York implements emergency hospital measures while Covid cases accelerate, says Governor Cuomo

The New York State Department of Health is implementing emergency measures to enable hospitals to cope with the outbreak of Covid cases and hospital care as the epidemic worsens across the state, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

According to Cuomo, if parts of the state are hit by a “real hospital crisis,” the state could implement a regional New York break that is “basically a stop.” He added that the number one priority is to ensure that the state has sufficient hospital capacity to treat all patients.

“We are now worried about the overwhelming nature of the hospital system,” Cuomo said at a news conference. “If these numbers continue to rise, which we expect will increase, the hospital system will experience severe stress.”

Implementing emergency measures means a few things. Hospitals must first identify retired nurses and doctors, Cuomo said, adding that “there is already a labor shortage”.

The state is also leaving out elective surgeries in Erie County, which Cuomo says have been particularly severely affected. He added, however, that the procedures chosen could be stopped in other parts of the state if hospitals start to overturn.

“This is a new stage in the war against Covid,” Cuomo said. “It’s a war in terms of preparation and mobilization.”

Cuomo also said the state requires patients to “load-balance” in hospital systems so that one hospital in a given area is not flooded while others have more capacity. According to Cuomo, failure to do so will be considered a malfunction in hospital systems.

Cuomo said the failure to balance the load in the spring caused elmhurst hospital at the beginning of the pandemic. The conditions at Queens Hospital, where 13 Covid-19 patients died in a single day, were made equivalent to a war film. He added that the state is preparing to implement “nationwide surge and flexibility” in which hospital systems need to coordinate burdens where necessary.

“It is in the patient’s interest to distribute the patient’s load on the system. We will not relive the nightmare of flooded hospitals,” Cuomo said. “If a hospital gets overwhelmed, there will be a state investigation.”

The state is also ready to develop plans for emergency hospitals that will expand hospitals with 50% bed capacity, he said. Cuomo also called on hospitals to prepare field hospital staff and strengthen sets of personal protective equipment, such as masks and clothing, to prevent healthcare workers from becoming infected. According to Cuomo, hospitals are said to have “a 90-day supply of PPE.”

According to Cuomo, the state will launch a dashboard to track these emergency hospital indicators.

Ken Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents more than 250 hospitals, said the ability of hospitals to respond to the current epidemic will be “full teamwork.”

“The spring was brutal,” he told the news. “We were all worried about repeating the situation we saw so vividly in Italy and people lined up in the corridors. It never happened, thank God. We learned a lot.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio noted in the briefing that the number of new deaths per day in the city is much lower than in the spring, when hundreds died every day for weeks. He added that the city’s intensive departments are not as stressful as they are in the spring.

Cuomo and other officials at the briefing said they were concerned about the growing number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths, especially because the impact of Thanksgiving-related travel and gatherings is yet to be seen. But Cuomo said the state could avoid another crisis.

“We know what that time is, in a way we didn’t know in the spring,” he said. “Any potential crisis unless we manage it properly. I think everything will be fine here, but we’ve cut our work out.”