Coronavirus drives New York’s hospitals to breaking point

The city’s cash-strapped public hospitals were predictably overwhelmed by the breadth of the virus: Despite relocating certain patients and rearranging wards to open up space for the influx, the system was consumed by the crisis. So too was New York City’s network of private hospitals, most of which operate on much more comfortable margins and have boards that count New York’s civic elite as members.

In a city of extremes, the coronavirus has been an equalizer: Wealthy and poor alike are grappling with its grip on their medical resources…

He now routinely asks hospital heads how they are making the most of their sites to account for the uptick in coronavirus patients: “What space are you going to use? Where are you going next? What is the next ward that you’re going to turn into an ICU?”

Some have combined wards: At Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx the obstetrics and pediatric patients were placed in the same wing, and those in the psychiatric emergency room were transferred to another section of the hospital to make room for those afflicted by the virus. Moving psychiatric patients is particularly delicate, since rooms cannot contain any items that would facilitate suicide, Katz said.