New York's Central Park to be fitted with field hospital for coronavirus patients

"It feels very apocalyptic," said Quentin Hill, a 27-year-old New Yorker. "It almost feels like we're in wartime."

Samaritan’s Purse staffs set up an emergency field hospital in East Meadow in Central park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Samaritan’s Purse staffs set up an emergency field hospital in East Meadow in Central park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., March 29, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The East Meadow lawn in New York's Central Park is to be the new location of an emergency field hospital intended to house coronavirus patients, according to local media reports.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the 68-bed field hospital complete with 10 intensive care units, each fitted with its own ventilator, will be up and running by Tuesday. The field hospital will serve solely as a special respiratory care unit in order to combat the influx of coronavirus patients currently filling up hospitals.
The assembly of the hospital is being carried by New York's Mount Sinai Hospital and Samaritan's Purse, an Evangelical humanitarian aid organization presided over by Franklin Graham, son of prominent Evangelist Billy Graham. Samaritan's Purse constructed similar special field respiratory units in Italy earlier this month.
The city of New York provided the project with emergency construction permits as New York state on Sunday reported nearly 60,000 cases and a total of 965 deaths, up 237 in the past 24 hours. The number of hospitalized patients was slowing, however, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
However, even with the new emergency field hospital, New York City will need hundreds more ventilators in a few days and more masks, gowns and other supplies by April 5, de Blasio told CNN.
Reuters has documented shortages of vital protective equipment in hospitals in hard-hit New York, where healthcare workers are hiding supplies such as face masks from colleagues in other departments.
Dr. Arabia Mollette, an emergency medicine physician at Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn and St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, said she now works in a "medical war zone."
"We're trying to keep our heads above water without drowning," Mollette said. "We are scared. We're trying to fight for everyone else's life, but we also fight for our lives as well."
The strict stay-at-home rules meant that usually bustling New York, like many major cities in the United States, was largely quiet on Sunday except for the sound of ambulance sirens.
"It feels very apocalyptic," said Quentin Hill, a 27-year-old New Yorker. "It almost feels like we're in wartime."

Reuters contributed to this report.