Health care officials nervously watch coronavirus cases and medical equipment stocks

Posted: Updated:

The coronavirus is putting a serious strain on the health care system, leaving worries about the availability of hospital beds, respirators and other necessities.

Right now, New York has 53,000 hospital beds and about 3,000 ventilators in total. But in about 45 days Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the need could skyrocket to 110,000 beds and 37,000 ventilators.

One of the people in charge of coordinating an effort to expand the health care effort is Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling.

"If the numbers are as large as people say they're going to be, we have to ratchet it up in a big way," says Dowling.

Dowling says the main challenge will be acquiring tens of thousands of ventilators. That's because supply chains have been interrupted and just about every other country is also trying to buy the same equipment.

Hospital officials say they're looking to do anything they can to expand capacity. That means possibly putting patients in places like cafeterias, conference rooms and even parking lots.

But for now, easing the potential strain on the health care system starts with staying home and avoiding contact with others.

"What the public does now, tomorrow and next week, in a big way determines how big of a problem we might have a month from now," says Dowling.

Gov. Cuomo says Health Department regulations are being waived for the time being, so hospitals can expand their capacities as quickly as possible.

 

 

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