22 THE QUEENS COURIER • APRIL 2, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
COVID tragedies show need for more hospitals
Elmhurst Hospital in Queens
became a tragic marker this week in
the city’s ongoing fi ght against the
coronavirus. In a single 24-hour period,
13 patients there died.
Accounts of the situation at Elmhurst
Hospital are quite grim. A physician at
the medical center said the facility
was hit with “a tidal wave” of patients,
and there just aren’t enough beds to
accommodate them all.
“Th e only beds we’ve been able to
free up are people who have died,” that
physician told THE CITY.
For most of western Queens,
Elmhurst Hospital has been the only
place for local residents to get emergency
Story: ‘It’s not fair’: Assistant principal
at The Mary Louis Academy dies from
Summary: An assistant principal at
The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica
has died due to complications from
COVID-19. Joseph Lewinger, 42, served
as the school’s assistant principal of
student life but also taught, coached
and ran the athletic department during his 20-year career.
Reach: 6,176 (as of 3/31/20)
care. It wasn’t always like that.
Th ree hospitals in Queens closed in
six months between 2008 and 2009:
Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, St.
John’s Queens Hospital in Elmhurst
and Mary Immaculate Hospital in
Jamaica. Th e cause of death was essentially
the same: a terminal case of massive
debt that no one could repay.
For the borough, the triple hospital
closure added pressure on Elmhurst
Hospital, as its emergency department
usage went up 39 percent between
2009 and 2014. Its reliance has not
eased even with more aff ordable
health insurance and the advent of
urgent care centers.
Th e hospital situation in Queens
is not isolated to the borough. It’s a
refl ection of the ongoing health care
problems facing the city, state and
In the near term, Governor Andrew
Cuomo says the state needs 140,000
hospital beds to treat coronavirus
patients. Normally, the state has
53,000 hospital beds. Imagine that for
a second: 53,000 hospital beds for a
state with a population of 19.5 million
New York needs to triple its hospital
capacity to meet the coronavirus crisis.
But when the crisis is over — and
it will end eventually — we will revert
back to the same hospital system that
we had before that was understaff ed
and under-equipped before the coronavirus
Hospitals are not seen as moneymakers
industry, yet they are no less a necessity
for public health. We’re going to
have to build more permanent hospitals,
hire more doctors and nurses,
and put more people to work to
keep us safe.
And if the city and state have to do it
and take on the costs, so be it. It’s the
kind of public works that will be necessary
to restart our economy in the
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Patients wait to get tested outside of Elmhurst Hospital.