With an increase in the severity of cases treated comes the need for more equipment and staffing. And at the moment, it remains to be seen whether either the Javits Center or the Comfort can adequately care for very many of the most seriously ill covid-19 patients, as state and federal officials have indicated is their new mission.
Between the two, there are 1,200 beds available, military officials said " far fewer than the 3,000 described in public statements by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) or the 5,000 touted in initial media announcements. As of Friday, about 250 beds were occupied, officials said.
Military officials said they are continually revising their admissions criteria as they've had to transform the facilities into ICU-capable covid-19 field hospitals, instead of medical wards to treat noncritical, non-covid patients as New York state initially requested. The slow start, one defense official said, is owed in part to the military being unfamiliar with the local hospitals and the hospitals' unfamiliarity with the military medical system.
Dario Gonzalez, a top medical official for the city's emergency management agency and the fire department, who is an on-site consultant at Javits, said the effort has faced multiple hurdles. Intensive care capability was limited to "just a couple" of ventilators, he said. X-ray machines and lab stations " equipment from the federal stockpile, which was also servicing growing crisis zones in Chicago and Detroit " have been slow to arrive.
"I know people are frustrated, and I know people are upset. Everybody wants it to be faster, but we want it to be safe," he said. "But I need the resources, the staff, the equipment. This was not set up as a mobile ICU."