By Eric Althoff
STONY BROOK, N.Y.—As hospitals in the greater New York City area, which has been the epicenter of the United States’ epidemic of the novel coronavirus, have been operating at or above capacity for many weeks, officials in Albany have been scrambling to increase the Empire State’s available number of hospital beds for the treatment of patients suffering from COVID-19 as the pandemic continues. Accordingly, a “temporary” hospital is under construction on Long Island, at the University of New York Stony Brook campus, located approximately 60 miles east of New York City.
The new hospital facility at SUNY Stony Brook will have capacity for approximately 1,000 beds. The facility has been fast-tracked following Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other civic authorities pushing for as many beds and treatment options as possible to treat those suffering from covid-19. The United States Army Corps of Engineers has been hard at work on building out the new hospital since construction work began on the new emergency healthcare project on March 29.
The project at SUNY Stony Brook is being built out on the empty soccer and softball fields located behind the campus’s LaValle Stadium on the north side of the campus, according to a report in Untapped New York, and offers relatively quick access from the Long Island Railroad station at Stony Brook. The report said the site was ideal given its remoteness from academic buildings and residential halls, and the fact that the fields are not currently being used as activities like sports have been canceled.
Earlier, the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City was repurposed solely for covid-19 patients, which helped increase healthcare professionals’ ability to deal with the crisis in the city, but more capacity was needed throughout the state, Cuomo said.
In addition to relieving some of the pressure on New York City, Cuomo said that the greater Long Island area would rapidly run low on its capacity to deal with the pandemic without projects such as the SUNY Stony Brook hospital.
“Long Island does not have as elaborate a health care system as New York City. We don’t have the same amount of resources on Long Island, and we see an increase in the number of cases on Long Island, and that has us very concerned,” Cuomo said on April 3, as reported on the official website for the governor. “
In addition to the project at SUNY Stony Brook, other fast-track temporary hospital projects are planned for Westchester, Rockland, Nassau and Suffolk counties, all of which neighbor New York City. Additionally, there will be similar projects at SUNY Westbury and the Westchester County Center.
New York states has 214,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 10,367 deaths in New York City alone, NPR reported.