Crown Heights

Brooklyn Center nursing home provides hospital beds as NYC nears reopening

May 28, 2020 Raanan Geberer
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New York City now meets almost all of the state-mandated metrics necessary for reopening, According to a Regional Monitoring Dashboard updated Tuesday.

The two metrics yet to be fulfilled are the ratio of contact tracers to residents, and the share of total beds available in case of a new upsurge of the coronavirus or other epidemic.

The share of total beds available is still only 28 percent, slightly below the state-mandated number of 30 percent.

Some people might wonder how the city will add more hospital beds. Constructing new hospital buildings, after all, would be time-consuming and financially forbidding.

Fortunately, what the city and state have done is to look for existing, unused spaces within health-related facilities and elsewhere. And Brooklyn institutions have contributed their share.

For example, since late March, SUNY Downstate, under state order, has treated only COVID-19 cases. As of the end of April, 104 additional beds were being added to Coney Island Hospital, and 292 new beds were being added to Kings County Hospital, according to Bloomberg News.

And one newly-built nursing home in Crown Heights, which was ready to receive nursing home patients, was leased by the city in late March for COVID-19 patients, according to Skilled Nursing News, a trade publication.

“Centers Health Care is helping New York State during this time of a national emergency by offering the new Brooklyn Center site on Buffalo Avenue to local Brooklyn hospitals as an overflow site due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Jeffrey Jacomowitz, director of corporate communications for Centers Health Care, which owns the facility, said.

The state’s controversial, now-rescinded order to discharge already-treated coronavirus patients to nursing homes was also part of the effort to open up new beds, although it was found that some of the patients could still test positive for COVID-19.

Also part of this effort was the opening of new, temporary hospital facilities in non-health-related locations, such as the Javits Center and Central Park. One embarrassing local effort was extensively reported on in the Brooklyn Eagle and other publications — the ill-fated effort to create a coronavirus hospital within the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook.

That facility, which opened and closed without seeing a single patient, cost $21 million. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the plans at the end of March. It was supposed to open in mid-April, but wasn’t ready until early May. “By then, citywide hospital utilization had already fallen by half its April 12 highpoint, to about 6,000 patients,” THE CITY said.

In addition Brooklyn-related COVID 19 news, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Tuesday that he plans to send more resources to New York City’s hardest-hit areas, the 10 ZIP codes that had the most coronavirus hospitalizations during the past week.

While the greatest number of these ZIP codes were in the Bronx, two Brooklyn ZIP codes were also included. They were 11226, Flatbush and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, with 78 cases, and 11203, East Flatbush, with 66 cases, according to amNewYork.

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