Top New York Surgeon Issues Dire Warning

Hospital could be overwhelmed by mid-April amid coronavirus pandemic
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 23, 2020 4:32 AM CDT
Updated Mar 23, 2020 6:33 AM CDT
Top New York Surgeon Issues Dire Warning
Pedestrians wearing masks walk by New York Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, Monday, March 16, 2020, in New York.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

In a series of terrifying internal memos, the chief surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital says there are not enough masks, equipment, or beds for the COVID-19 patients that could eventually come in. Dr. Craig Smith warns staff in his memos that anywhere between 700 and 934 intensive care beds will likely be needed when the hospital sees its peak number of coronavirus cases. "The lower estimate exceeds our ICU capacity, even with surge construction," he writes, per ABC News. And when it comes to masks, hospital workers are soon expected to need 70,000 per day, far outstripping availability, Smith warns, per Business Insider. As for when the peak will hit, he cites data projections that predict it could happen between April 12 and 22, per NBC New York.

"In the past few days it has also become obvious that the virus has breached our Department walls, and we can expect to hear about increasing numbers of infected Department colleagues," he wrote, per the New York Post. "It should be no surprise if these infections appear in clusters associated with the care of infected patients." He says the data is "alarming" and says it could be even worse: "The next month or two is a horror to imagine if we're underestimating the threat." He also adds one semi-hopeful caveat: "Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to apologize profusely in a few weeks for having overestimated the threat. That would mean we never exceeded capacity, and that mortalities and morbidities rarely seen in non-pandemic circumstances were avoided." (More coronavirus stories.)

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