A doctor at Elmhurst hospital in Queens – the coronavirus ‘epicenter of the epicenter’ in New York City – said on Tuesday that fewer patients are coming in but those who do are more severely sick.
Dr. Eric Wei, the vice president of New York’s Health + Hospitals system, spoke at a press conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday where he said the positive cases of Elmhurst are surprising.
Patients are coming into the ER with sore throats, sore chests, fevers and coughs, expecting to test positive, but test negative whereas others, who come in for other ailments, test positive by chance.
He gave the example of car accident victims who are tested after going through CT scans which reveal the pneumonia in their lungs.
Others have no other symptoms but diarrhea, he said.
Dr. Eric Wei,the vice president of New York City Health + Hospitals, said on Tuesday that Elmhurst Hospital in Queens was receiving fewer patients but that they were sicker. He spoke at the Queens complex where the US Open is held – it is to become a field hospital
A patient is stretchered into Elmhurst Hospital in Queens – the epicenter of the epicenter
Patients are coming into the ER with sore throats, sore chests, fevers and coughs, expecting to test positive, but test negative whereas others, who come in for other ailments, test positive by chance
‘I have practiced emergency medicine and I could never even imagine what this virus could do to people who are all ages, people who are previously healthy,’ he said.
‘Elmhurst … everybody is moving heaven and earth to do everything they can to take on an onslaught of patients.
‘It’s gone from double the volume of people coming to the ER, the volume is down but the people who are coming in are so much more ill and so much more critically ill with shortness of breath and respiratory failure.
‘So we’re seeing more and more ICU patients,’ he said.
A healthcare worker at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, on Monday March 30
It is unclear exactly how many patients have flooded Elmhurst’s ER in recent days.
One paramedic told The New York Post that the number of calls they were receiving had doubled and that the ER was double its usual capacity.
A different man said he had gone to the hospital with a cough then gave up and went home because it was taking so long for him to be seen.
Elmhurst has been described as the ‘epicenter of the epicenter’ of New York City’s crisis.
The hospital was restocked with supplies four times in a single day last week and is being sent back-up nurses by the truckload.
President Trump, who grew up near to it in Queens, became emotional while addressing the situation there last week.
A hospital worker outside Elmhurst Hospital, Queens, on March 31
A hospital worker outside Brooklyn Hospital Center takes a break from loading bodies into a makeshift morgue on the street on Tuesday
It will be relieved of some of the unimaginable pressure it is under in part by the new temporary field hospital that is being set up at the Queens complex where the US Open is held every year.
It is going to house 350 beds for non-critical coronavirus patients to be treated.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that the center was one of the many places in New York City which had offered to help since the pandemic exploded.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also told of his plan to centralize the hospital system, removing the barriers or whether or not they are public or private, to try to spread the load of patients across the city.
Elmhurst is one of the 11 public hospitals across New York City.
They are under more strain than private hospitals like Lenox Hill or Columbia Presbyterian because they had fewer resources to work with before the pandemic hit.
The city is so overrun with hospital patients due to COVID-19 that there are makeshift morgues being set up in the streets.
The refrigerated trucks are stationed outside the hospitals. Hospital workers have been seen loading them with bodies over the last few days.
Other distressing scenes across the city include the sights of people’s bodies being removed the morgues in cardboard coffins.
Hospital workers who staff them all wear hazmat suits.