Cuomo Repeats Call for Medical Workers and Supplies Amid COVID-19
by Ryan Jones • Published on March 20, 2020 • 0 Comments
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks with reporters at the state capitol.
Credit: Dan Clark
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is using social media to get the word out that New York is asking retired medical staff to reconnect with health care facilities to build up a reserve of workers if they’re needed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a tweet posted last night, Cuomo asked social media users to share that message. He’s repeated the call in briefings with the press in recent days.
“We’re asking former doctors and nurses to reconnect with your old hospital, your old healthcare employer, to be on an on-call basis,” Cuomo said. “When you’re talking about hospital systems, you’re talking about two components: you’re talking about facility capacity, and then you’re talking about the staffing capacity.”
It’s just one of the potential shortages that state and city leadership is attempting to make up for caused by the coronavirus outbreak. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has raised serious concerns that medical supplies in New York hospitals are two to three weeks from being exhausted.
The Governor has asked all medical facilities that perform non-essential, or elective, procedures across the state, like dentist offices, to donate masks, gowns and gloves. He said the state could pay for them, but his request suggests that he hopes a spirit of generosity will inform their decision. He’s also asked companies to expedite the manufacture of these supplies, saying he couldn’t mandate them, but that financial incentives could be offered to satisfy the need.
The greatest need, though, is ventilators.
“Ventilators are to this war what missiles were to WWII,” Cuomo said.
Masks, gloves and gowns are much more easily acquired, the potential even being there to 3D print them, but regulated health facilities should consider lending them to the state, which can purchase them if need be.
According to the CDC, rural populations present a particular vulnerability, being generally older and less healthy and further removed from medical facilities. But in New York, so far, the spread of COVID-19 has seen most cases concentrated in counties with denser population centers.
At a medical facility like Ellenville Regional Hospital, in Ulster County, where there are nine confirmed cases, they are as prepared as possible, setting up an outdoor triage facility for patients showing symptoms, relying on the one ventilator on site, if they don’t have to, or choose to, give it to the state for an area of more dire need.