March 26, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Queens Council Member Francisco Moya sent a desperate plea to President Donald Trump today asking the federal government to send more resources to Elmhurst Hospital.
The hospital saw 13 patients die of coronavirus in a 24-hour period on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic has hit Queens the hardest in both the number of deaths and overall cases of COVID-19 in New York City.
Elmhurst Hospital is ground zero for the pandemic, Moya wrote to Trump in a joint letter with Council Member Carlina Rivera, who represents parts of east Manhattan.
“As you know, New York is the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States but ground zero is Elmhurst Hospital,” the council members wrote. “It is currently operating well beyond capacity.”
Coronavirus patients are dying because the hospital doesn’t have the resources to treat them, the pair wrote. They asked Trump to send more resources including ventilators and staff trained to operate them to both Elmhurst Hospital and Queens Hospital.
“We write to you with an urgent plea to secure additional hospital beds, ventilators and the intensive care staff trained to operate them for NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst and NYC Health + Hospitals/Queens to care for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in Queens,” Moya and Rivera wrote.
In the letter, Moya — who represents Elmhurst and was born at Elmhurst hospital and later worked there — described the dire conditions.
“Elmhurst and Queens Hospitals [are] besieged by this disease,” Moya and Rivera wrote. “If you speak with any of the staff there, the desperation in their voices is unmistakable. Doctors describe scenes in apocalyptic terms.”
“Patients are reportedly dying in the emergency room still waiting for a bed. Residents line the block, standing inside barricades and in the rain waiting to get tested.”
Queens has the fewest hospital beds per capita in New York City, despite being the second-most populated borough with 2.3 million residents, adding to the challenges faced by healthcare workers in the borough.
Queens has just 1.66 beds per 1,000 residents, according to a February report by the Queens Borough President.
The council members warned the president that more people would die if he didn’t send aid and secure more hospital beds as soon as possible.
“The longer these hospitals wait for resources, the more people will die in Queens,” they wrote. “For many, it’s already too late.”