Stony Brook University will host one of four temporary hospitals to help increase the capacity to treat COVID-19 patients in New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed in a press briefing on March 22.
The hospitals will be constructed by the Army Corp of Engineers as soon as possible — and will house both patients and staff, according to Cuomo.
“The facilities are open. No red tape,” he tweeted. “In my point of view, construction could start tomorrow.”
Other locations for temporary hospitals include the Javits Center, SUNY College at Old Westbury and the Westchester County Center. All eligible sites were evaluated by Cuomo and the Army Corp of Engineers this past week.
Cuomo said that hospital staff could stay in Stony Brook University dorms. On-campus housing closed this past week to reduce the spread of coronavirus, requiring that students move out on a 3-day notice during their spring break. Only special exceptions, such as international students and research assistants, were allowed to stay on campus with permission.
Cuomo said the goal is to increase hospital capacity in New York as much as possible. The state is requesting four Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) field hospitals at the Javits Center, which will hold 250 beds each with appropriate staff.
Cuomo suggested that patients would be hosted in open spaces, displaying pictures of Island Federal Arena and the athletics field during the press conference.
The university’s Athletics Director, Shawn Heilbron, tweeted on March 21 that Island Federal Arena was ready to accommodate Stony Brook Medicine patients if needed.
Additionally, a Department of Health Emergency order requires that hospitals increase their capacity by 100% and cancel elective non-critical surgeries to free up hospital beds by March 25.
As of March 22, there are 15,168 cases of the coronavirus in New York State, with 1,974 currently hospitalized, according to Cuomo. Three hundred and seventy-four New Yorkers have died from complications of the disease.
Cuomo is seeking an additional 30,000 ventilators for New York State to be used in Intensive Care Units (ICU); he is calling on the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to nationalize acquisitions for medical supplies.
He also told retired and inactive health care professionals to be on call to work in case of patient overflow.
To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Cuomo ordered that all non-essential businesses either work from home or suspend operation if necessary. Essential businesses, such as health care professionals; grocery and pharmacy retailers; and emergency services will keep operating.