A temporary coronavirus field hospital built by New York City in April, at the height of the pandemic and cost more than $52 million treated just 79 patients over the month it was open, according to a report published Tuesday.
Doctors were paid as much as $732 an hour at Billie Jean King, but the city made them spend hours on paperwork per the Washington Examiner.
Running from April 10 to May 13, the facility was built at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Doctors were paid as much as $732 an hour, but the city made them spend hours on paperwork per the Washington Examiner. Transfers to the facility were blocked by bureaucracy, turf battles and communication failures, according to internal documents and interviews with workers, according to The New York Times.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office oversaw most transfers to the centers, but city officials say the state did not closely coordinate with other players.
“I basically got paid $2,000 a day to sit on my phone and look at Facebook,” Katie Capano, a nurse practitioner at the facility told the Examiner. “We all felt guilty. I felt really ashamed, to be honest.”
The temporary hospital was barred from accepting patients with fevers, a common symptom of coronavirus, the Times reported. The hospital apparently had only two ventilators, limiting treatment of severely ill patients.
The city reportedly did not allow the hospital to receive 911 patients arriving in ambulances. There was more red tape in transporting patients between facilities because of exclusive contracts between ambulance companies and certain hospitals, per the Times.
Jackie Bray, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio who oversaw the facility, told the Washington Examiner the slowing infection rate contributed to the decision to keep patients at existing hospitals. However, some doctors disagreed.
“Knowing what our patients had to endure in an overcrowded emergency department, it’s frustrating how few patients were treated at facilities such as Billie Jean King,” Dr. Timothy Tan told The New York Times.
Mayor de Blasio’s aide told the Times that she expected the federal government to reimburse the city for the cost of the hospital.