USNS Comfort, With Capacity Of 1,000 Beds, Only Treating 22 Patients In New York
A US Navy hospital ship designed to free up space in New York City hospitals to allow them to focus on patients with the novel coronavirus is only treating 22 patients as of Friday, despite having a 1,000 bed capacity.
The USNS Comfort was deployed to New York, where the virus outbreak has hit the hardest. As of Friday, New York City had 56,289 cases, at least 11,739 hospitalizations and 1,867 deaths.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was unconcerned about the ship’s lack of patients.
“There’s no question in my mind that will get resolved quickly. You’ll see that number grow,” he said on CNN about the ship’s number of patients. “Having the Comfort here is a very, very important thing for New York City in terms of the number of patients served, but also an extraordinary morale boost when we needed it,” de Blasio said. “I don’t have a doubt in my mind, the Comfort will be filled up soon.”
Currently, patients must first go to a brick and mortar hospital to be screened and tested for coronavirus before being admitted on board the ship. however, the Department of Defense said Friday that it would begin screening patients pier-side.
“Screening for care on the USNS Comfort will be modified and will now occur pier-side in an effort to reduce the backlog at some of the nearby New York hospitals,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The screening effort for the USNS Comfort will no longer require a negative test (for coronavirus), but each patient will still be screened by temperature and a short questionnaire.”
The Comfort contains 12 operating rooms, radiology services, a medical lab, pharmacy, optometry lab, a CAT-scan and two oxygen-producing plants, according to the Navy. There are more than 1,100 personnel aboard to treat non-COVID-19 patients.
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