WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES JANUARY 13, 2022 7
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Mayor Adams makes three-point plan to aid
hospitals amid the ongoing COVID-19 surge
BY DEAN MOSES
Mayor Eric Adams made a trip to Elmhurst
Hospital — the original COVID-19 epicenter
of the city’s pandemic — last week to
outline a new program assisting medical centers
treating the infl ux of sick patients.
Hizzoner unfolded a three-point plan that will
aid hospitals with the resources they need to
weather the surge in COVID-19 cases. “Oft en we
forget about the ‘safety net hospitals.’ They play a
vital role in ensuring that there is a net that people
can safely know they’re not going to fall through
the system,” Adams said.
Speaking to a room brimming with elected offi
cials and medical staff , Adams and health leaders
also provided a rundown on the positivity rates
the city is seeing, which suggest that the omicron
variant-fueled uptick in COVID-19 cases isn’t about
to slow down just yet.
“The data that we’re seeing, which is cases are
increasing and hospitalizations are increasing —
I expect that that will continue in the near term,
meaning the next 10 days or two weeks. What we’re
looking for is a deceleration in the rate of growth.
And we’re not seeing that yet. But that’s what I’m
looking for in the data for us to be able to say that
we may be approaching the peak in the coming
weeks,” said Dr. Dave A. Chokshi, commissioner
of the New York City Department of Health and
Dr. Chokshi stated that the tracking showcased a
steep increase in positive rates over the last week
of December, but in recent days he has noticed
positivity rates “leveling off .” He explained that it
is too early to tell if this leveling off is due to holiday
testing patterns or a reprieve. In order to combat
the virus, he urged individuals to get vaccinated
and boosted, wash their hands, and wear a higher
quality of masks. He does recommend cloth masks,
and emphasized surgical masks and other highergrade
face coverings should now be used.
The surge of COVID-19 cases has also once again
caused a dangerous healthcare worker to patient
ratio, leaving many facilities shorthanded.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reports that as of Dec. 30, 2021, the number of
health care workers who had contracted COVID-19
doubled to 803,454, and 3,063 had died from the
virus. This has resulted in dangerous staffi ng
conditions for nurses and other medical personnel.
“I saw it last night when I was at Woodhull Hospital
with other medical professionals and how
much they’re going through: they were energized
to help people to get through this period. And our
healthcare heroes have been working long hours,
countless number of days, times away from their
Mayor Eric Adams visited Elmhurst Hospital on Jan. 5 to announce a three-point plan combatting
COVID-19. Photo by Dean Moses
family, but they were committed and dedicated
and they’re clear we are going to beat back COVID.
We’re not going to succumb or allow our lives to be
defi ned by COVID. We’re going to be stronger than
ever when we cycle out of this period,” Adams said.
With the increase in rates, hospitals are seeing a
reduction in their staff as they quarantine to help
stop the spread. In light of this, Adams announced
a corporate partnership with Goldman Sachs that
will provide $33 million in funds to safety net hospitals,
such as Elmhurst in Queens and Brookdale
in Brooklyn. This allows these facilities that are
in need of money to attain the resources needed
so that they can make critical investments. While
much of this will be reimbursable by FEMA, the
immediate funds allow for staffi ng and equipment
to be paid for immediately.
The program named the New York City COVID-19
hospital loan fund will aid frontline hospitals in the
NYC Health and Hospitals network by providing
salaries, protective equipment, testing, vaccine
administration and distribution. Adams added that
so far these loans have already funded over 22,400
safety net hospital staff members that have served
over 26,000 patients. The money is said to be placed
in a “hospital pool” and utilized to meet the demands
of taking care of patients. The funds were most
recently used in Coney Island Hospital — which
was noted at the press conference to have been hit
the hardest fi rst due to the large number of elderly
residents — to hire nurses and additional staff .
Adams commended Goldman Sachs on their effort
and called upon other fi nancial institutions to
take the same steps and not just applaud medical
facilities but support them.
In addition to the hospital loan, the mayor has allocated
the immediate use of $111 million for Health
+ Hospitals to hire nurses, utilize additional providers
and supply support staff . According to NYC
Health + Hospitals President and Chief Executive
Offi cer Dr. Mitchell Katz, members of City Hall will
work together to get as much of this reimbursed
by FEMA since the money is considered budget
neutral and was previously allocated for this year’s
fi scal budget. Katz stressed that this money will
provide immediate help with the severe staffi ng
shortages medical facilities are currently facing.
“We know about the staffi ng issues that we are
facing fi nding the dollars in the money to ensure
that we maintain proper staffi ng in our hospitals.
This is crucial and we’re going to do everything
possible to ensure this pump-up baseline staffi ng
including doctors, nurses, medical technicians and
support rookies and it would increase the overall
COVID capacity and how we respond though.
Expand staffi ng and support at the Department of
Health and Mental Hygiene part of our ongoing
COVID-19 Response Plan,” Adams said.
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