Hospital holds strong in deadliest week of outbreak
by Sara Krevoy
Apr 15, 2020 | 8999 views | 0 0 comments | 320 320 recommendations | email to a friend | print
At 7 p.m. each day, residents in all corners of Forest Hills have been joining together with New Yorkers across the city to rally behind the hospital staff and first responders leading the charge against COVID-19.

To show appreciation for frontline workers, people are making noise in whatever way they can from windows, balconies, front yards and even their cars.

After a particularly rough patch, officials at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills say the outpouring of community support, which also included food donations, sidewalk chalk messages and a visit from the FDNY, is helping to boost morale within the hospital.

On Saturday, the NY Post reported 72 coronavirus-related deaths at LIJ Forest Hills in a seven-day stretch from April 4 to 10.

Last week was a morbid one for the state as whole, with COVID-19 death rates reaching record highs, nearing 800 fatalities in a single day. At the same time, signs that the state’s infection curve appears to be flattening are a potential source of hope.

LIJ Forest Hills alone has discharged close to 200 coronavirus patients, and is expecting that number to rise in the coming weeks.

Since the outbreak began, the small local hospital has seen hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases. The majority of patients were seen in the Emergency Department and released, while a smaller percentage have been admitted for internal care.

When it comes to procuring necessary resources such as protective gear, ventilators and additional personnel, LIJ Forest Hills is backed up by its parent system Northwell Health.

According to Dr. Teresa Amato, chair of Emergency Medicine, the hospital has fortunately not experienced any issues with ventilator availability or a lack of protective equipment due to the generosity of sister hospitals.

Data posted by the city on Github indicates that as of April 11, more than 870 confirmed cases have been recorded in the 11375 zip code. With Queens being hit the hardest of the five boroughs, hospitals are taking steps to accommodate growing admissions.

In addition to transferring nearly 500 patients to less burdened hospitals in the Northwell system, LIJ Forest Hills was able to triple its ICU capacity from 18 beds to 54 beds.

By repurposing spaces like surgical suites, post-operative areas and ambulatory surgical units, as well as staff, the hospital is soundly handling an uptick in severely ill patients.

The hospital is continuing to transfer patients to sister hospitals and identify other spaces that can be converted to operate for intensive care.

“I’m more and more impressed by my team every day,” said Dr. Amato. “The camaraderie is palpable, and people are doing things that just need to be done regardless of job title. As sad as this time has been, the amount of teamwork has been incredible.”
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