Apr 03, 2021
As part of ongoing remembrances and memorials at its hospitals, clinics, and skilled nursing facilities, NYC Health + Hospitals this month marked one-year of the COVID-19 pandemic – honoring its health care heroes, remembering those lost to the virus, and celebrating those who recovered. From the public health system’s first hospitalized New Yorker with confirmed COVID-19 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst in early March 2020, health care heroes on the front lines responded compassionately and heroically to save lives in every community across the city. NYC Health + Hospitals treated more than 108,000 patients, including 4,000 in-patients at the peak of the pandemic in March and April 2020. As a part of its response to the pandemic, the public health system has invested in patient care, testing, vaccination, and recovery for COVID-19 long-haulers. A tribute to NYC Health + Hospitals employees can be found here, and a video summarizing the health system’s response can be found here.
“The pandemic presented many challenges to our health system, but I’m proud to say that we met every challenge head on and our health care heroes saved thousands of lives,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “I’d like to thank >our heroic workforce that has persevered through the past year to support each other and care for New Yorkers at every stage of the pandemic: healing, testing, vaccinating and helping patients recover.”
The public health system has provided quality and compassionate care for thousands of patients at its hospitals and skilled nursing facilities during the first and second surges of the pandemic, with more than 54,000 patients discharged from its hospitals. The system managed nearly 108,000 patient visits, while recruiting and deploying more than 5,000 additional nurses and 1,500 other health care staff to help during the surges of COVID-19 patients. In addition, hundreds of military personnel worked side-by-side with NYC Health + Hospital staff to care for patients. New Yorkers trust the health system’s heroic health care workers, its hospitals, and clinics for their care.
Testing, Tracing, and Taking Care
As testing became a crucial tool to mitigate the spread of the virus, NYC Health + Hospitals, through the City’s newly created NYC Test & Trace Corps, led the largest and most successful testing and tracing operation in the nation. Testing was prioritized for employees, patients, and those eligible in New York City with over 500 dedicated testing sites across the public health system’s hospitals, Gotham Health community health centers, and NYC Test & Trace Corps testing sites.
With the help of NYC Test & Trace Corps, New York City performed more than 120,000 tests in a single day. The health system has done more than 3.8 million COVID-19 tests across its hospitals, Gotham Health centers, and all the Test & Trace sites. The team of 4,000 contact tracers now regularly reach a higher proportion of all new cases than any other jurisdiction we are familiar with in the country, most recently reaching more than 96 percent of those people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Take Care, the hotel program run by NYC Test & Trace to help New Yorkers safely separate if they feel sick or have been exposed to the virus, has been used by more than 15,000 guests who have received a free and safe hotel room, meals, round trip transportation, and onsite clinical monitoring. In some instances, the program provides Take Care packages to those who tested positive and their contacts. The package includes PPE, hand sanitizer, a thermometer, and a pulse oximeter to help those who test positive for COVID-19 monitor their oxygen levels.
In December 2020, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration authorized the first COVID-19 vaccine. Shortly thereafter, NYC Health + Hospitals began offering COVID-19 vaccines to its workforce – beginning with two employees at NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst. It has since invited residents, patients, non-affiliate community providers, essential workers, and eligible New Yorkers to get their vaccine at its hospitals, community-based health centers and the mass vaccination sites managed by the NYC Test & Trace Corps. Despite early challenges with shortages in federal vaccine supply, the health system continued to prioritize vaccine distribution to its employees and most vulnerable patients.
To-date, NYC Health + Hospitals has administered more than 447,000 doses with plans to increase appointments for all eligible New Yorkers and for homebound patients.
The health system plans to support its patients through their recovery from COVID-19 as many will experience long-term health effects from the virus. NYC Health + Hospitals has invested in three new Covid-19 Centers of Excellence in communities hardest hit by the pandemic to ensure access to the specialized care New Yorkers will need to address long term respiratory, cognitive and mental health conditions caused by the virus. The first site in Tremont opened in December, and the second site in Jackson Heights opened in February. More than 26,000 COVID-19 patients continue to receive quality care through ambulatory care operations across all five boroughs.
In effort to mitigate the spread of the virus and protect the most vulnerable New Yorkers, eligible New Yorkers are encouraged to get vaccinated and can make their appointment by using the system’s COVID-19 vaccine scheduler, or by visiting nyc.gov/covidvaccine.
New Yorkers can also schedule an appointment at any one of the NYC Health + Hospitals facilities by calling( ).
Support for Our Health Care Heroes
Thanks to the generosity and overwhelming support of community members, restaurants, businesses, and private donors, the health system was able to purchase comfort items like meals, groceries, transportation and hotel rooms. These items supported the heroic health care workers on the front line of care to New Yorkers with COVID-19. Donations can be made to support NYC Health + Hospitals through its fundraising page. Donations for equipment and supplies should be directed to Help Now NYC.