However, in the city and in the countryside, hospitals have begun to adopt plans for an increase in patients. Some may open large tents while triage centers are outside the emergency room: patients with severe respiratory symptoms would be directed in one way, those with broken bones and non-coronavirus symptoms in another.
Mark Jarrett, Northwell Health’s Chief Quality Officer, who runs 23 hospitals, including Lenox Hill on the Upper East Side, said there was confusion about finding available hospitals and smaller units. He said he planned to put some coronavirus patients in a wing that had been closed at Long Island’s Glen Cove Hospital.
“From my point of view, I don’t think anyone knows how many critically ill patients we will have,” said Dr. Jarrett.
Doctors also said they were concerned that patients in nursing homes hospitalized with coronavirus will become long-term patients because nursing homes may be reluctant to accept them again, out of concern for being contagious.
About a month ago, dr. Mitchell Katz, who heads Health and Hospitals, the city’s public hospital system, asked each of its 11 acute care hospitals to come up with a plan on how to take 100 more patients. This could create room for 1,100 more patients, although nobody knows if it will be enough.
Hospitals are also preparing for staff shortages because health workers are required to get sick or have to be with sick children or at home due to school cancellation. Public schools are open in New York City, but many charter, private and religious schools are closed.
The Mount Sinai health system has started to request employees to apply for approval before personal vacations, and the Presbyterian hospital in New York is now urging workers to avoid travel for any reason, according to workers on those systems.