By Kevin Deutsch
Health workers are working to save virus-stricken patients in tents outside NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi in the Bronx, as COVID-19 infections threaten to overwhelm New York City’s public hospital system.
The beige structures, set up outside Jacobi’s emergency room entrance in Morris Park, were filled Thursday afternoon with a continuous flow of Bronxites sickened by coronavirus. Nurses attended to visibly ill patients, while doctors worked to managed ballooning caseloads amid a citywide shortage of ventilators, COVID-19 tests, protective masks, and other vital equipment.
Outside Jacobi’s tents, nurses directed new arrivals to call 311 – the tents were reserved for confirmed, serious cases only – and begin the process of arranging for a coronavirus test. The diagnostic tool is being offered at multiple facilities in the Bronx, including a drive through testing center at Jacobi.
City health officials have said only seriously ill patients should seek out coronavirus tests, which are not yet widely available in the five boroughs.
Staffers working Jacobi’s tents said they expected the already high volume of patients to surge in the days ahead.
“It’s only going to get worse,” one said.
Also Thursday, nurses at the hospital said they were being given just one N95 safety mask per five day period.
“We are going into a war without armor,” a group of Jacobi nurses wrote on Facebook Thursday, in advance of a planned demonstration Saturday to demand more masks. “The federal government needs to direct companies to produce N95 masks TODAY.“