Take a moment to think back to what your life was like at the end of 2019. Use your mind’s eye to imagine someone approaching you at this time, forecasting the Javits Center, Stony Brook campus and Central Park would be turned into emergency hospitals in response to a deadly contagious virus. You would have thought such a prediction was indicative of a highly unlikely doomsday scenario. Fast forward to April of 2020 and this seemingly impossible dystopian future is now our reality.
At the moment, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. At best, a vaccine will emerge 14 to 18 months from now. The only silver lining to this situation is the remarkably quick transformation of the public spaces listed above into functional emergency hospitals. Let’s take a closer look at how it all came together.
The Creation of Emergency Hospitals is a Testament to Human Ingenuity
The Javits Convention Center has served as a gathering space for trade fairs, car shows and myriad conventions. This massive facility in the heart of New York City is now being used as a 2,000-bed hospital to treat the unfortunate souls plagued by serious cases of COVID-19, also known as COVID-19. Javits Center beds are separated with temporary walls, each adorned with a front curtain for privacy. A foldable chair, small table, humidifier, lamp and plant are positioned next to each bed to make the space feel and look a bit more like home.
The 1.8 million square foot facility was rapidly converted into makeshift hospital with the assistance of the National Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA for short. All in all, the Javits Convention Center had enough room for four distinct temporary hospitals, each with 250 beds. Each of these hospitals spans 40,000 square feet. A total of 320 medical professionals staff these spaces.
The hope is that the entirety of these temporary hospitals will not be used. If New York City successfully flattens its curve, only a portion of the Javits Center will be used to treat COVID-19 patients. Though New York City has several hospitals, the rapid spread of COVID-19 made it quite clear existing facilities would prove insufficient, especially if social distancing measures were not followed as directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo quickly inked his name on an executive order mandating all hospitals boost their capacity by at least 50% with the aim of hiking capacity by 100% thereafter.
Pop-up Hospitals Aside From the Javits Center
New York also pinpointed two additional sites to rapidly transform into pop-up style hospitals to handle the potentially devastating impact of COVID-19. Head about an hour east from the Javits Center and you will find SUNY Stony Brook. A temporary hospital has been established at this campus to handle the inevitable spike in NYC-area COVID-19 patients.
The state also designated parts of Central Park, the Westchester County Convention Center and SUNY Westbury as suitable spaces for treating COVID-19 patients. Gov. Cuomo even went as far as temporarily leasing a Brooklyn nursing home facility with 600 beds that could quickly be converted into a medical treatment facility for those battling COVID-19.
A Hospital in Central Park
Though it might be hard to believe, Manhattan’s Central Park is now being used as a temporary field hospital. Work on the emergency hospital’s construction commenced on March 29. It did not take long for crews to erect tents, truck in supplies and prepare the public space for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
A nonprofit Christian group, Samaritan’s Purse, facilitated the construction of the emergency hospital. Though this organization is based in North Carolina, its leaders were more than happy to lend a helping hand to the Big Apple’s residents during their time of need. FEMA also contributed to the rapid construction Central Park hospital, providing a total of 68 beds.