'Apocalyptic' local hospital at the center of coronavirus crisis may be how all hospitals will be soon

Posted at 8:17 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 22:45:44-04

EAST ELMHURST, Queens — Elmhurst Hospital is at the center of the strongest outbreak of coronavirus.

It serves Queens, which has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the city with the highest number of cases in the country.

Elmhurst Hospital has had so many cases, that 30 patients have had to be moved to other facilities to try and ease the load. Francisco Moya, the local city councilmember, told PIX11 News that 30 more may go shortly.

However, it won't be long before there's nowhere else that can accept other patients.

"At NYU, where I'm on staff, all our covid units are overflowing," said Dr. Purvi Parikh, a respiratory specialist of the Allergy and Asthma Network.

Her observation echoed that of every medical professional that PIX11 News encountered.

"We're at the beginning of the curve they're trying to flatten," said Anthony Almojera, an EMT and firefighter who's a senior vice president of the FDNY EMS officers' union.

"Unfortunately, I don't think it's going to flatten any time soon," he added.

At a Mount Sinai hospital facility, some staff posted photos of how they've been forced to use trash bags as gowns.

It was a clear demonstration of how personal protective equipment for medical professionals is in short supply, and the number of cases is expected to rise exponentially well into April.

The doctor who took video inside Elmhurst Hospital, and shared it with the New York Times, descried the situation this way.

"I don't have the support that I need and the materials I need to take care of patients," said Dr. Colleen Smith, an emergency room doctor, in the video. "And it's America. We're supposed to be a first world country," she said.

Still, said Dr. Parikh, who's also dealing with scarcity of resources, the one thing that just may prevent the entire New York health care system from becoming overburdened is what most New Yorkers are doing, and need to continue to do.

"Follow those guidelines [of social distancing]," she said. "All of you are helping us buy time."