How NYC hospitals are handling the latest COVID wave

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New York City hospitals say they are treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, but are ready for any potential surges.

At Northwell Health, the state’s largest healthcare provider, 399 COVID-19 patients were being treated in its hospitals Friday, compared to 900 at the same point last year, said Dr. John D’Angelo, chief of integrated operations and senior vice president of emergency medicine.

D’Angelo said 25 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 were vaccinated, but had other risk factors that made them sicker.

“The unvaccinated group — it’s not sparing anybody. It’s all age groups — some with risks some without,” he said.

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Despite fewer COVID-19 patients, there were still 3,500 people hospitalized in Northwell facilities on Friday, the same as at this time last year. But now there are more patients with other illnesses like the flu or pneumonia, D’Angelo said.

Medical workers carry a patient to a hospital in New York.
New York State saw a record-shattering 21,000-plus new coronavirus infections over a 24-hour period this week.
Xinhua News Agency via Getty Ima

“All the other viruses stayed at home last year,” he said. “And everything is back in full force right now.”

Still, D’Angelo said, Northwell had enough supplies and space to accommodate a potential COVID-19 influx although staffing could be challenging. He said the system had a pool of nurses to move around where they are needed.

Northwell recently sent nurses upstate to help at overwhelmed hospitals.

Physical and occupational therapists, part of a "prone team" bring individual bags of personal protective equipment (PPE), before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient in a Stamford Hospital intensive care unit (ICU).
Physical and occupational therapists bring individual bags of PPE before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient in 2020.
Getty Images / John Moore
Healthcare workers transport a patient from an ambulance to Maimonides Medical Center, a hospital in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Borough Park.
Healthcare workers transport a patient from an ambulance to Maimonides Medical Center.
AFP via Getty Images / Angela Weiss

Statewide, there were 3,839 people hospitalized with COVID-19 Thursday with 1,000 of those patients in New York City facilities, according to state figures.

New York City’s public hospital system insisted it was “better prepared than ever.” The public Elmhurst Hospital was overwhelmed at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

“COVID cases are nowhere near the records we set in the first wave of the pandemic, and we can seamlessly monitor capacity across facilities and adjust as needed,” said Christopher Miller, a spokesman for NYC Health + Hospitals.

A spokesman for New York-Presbyterian said it had experienced a slow but steady increase in the number of COVID-related cases in the last week but that “all of our hospitals continue to operate normally.”

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