As number of ICU patients continues to climb, Suffolk hospitals may soon face shortage

The number of COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units at Suffolk County hospitals has more than tripled in the last week, leaving just 43 ICU beds currently available, according to the latest numbers provided Friday by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

An additional 87 patients are now being treated in ICU compared to the prior day, bringing the total to 401. One week earlier on March 27, there were 119 patients in ICU.

Mr. Bellone spoke about New York’s shift to one health care system where public, private and federal hospitals are working together.

“Patients are going to go where they need to go to be treated,” he said. “All the old policies of separation and siloing off of institutions, that needs to be out the window. This is about saving lives every day.”

As part of that shift, some patients have already begun being transferred from hospitals farther west to Suffolk. Peconic Bay Medical Center, which is part of Northwell Health, has received patients from hospitals farther west, a spokesperson confirmed. Specific numbers were not immediately available.

Health Commissioner Gregson Pigott, M.D., said all of the county hospitals do still have some ICU availability. Last week, PBMC’s deputy executive director, Amy Loeb, said the hospital had 28 ICU beds, an increase from 12 normally. Nearly half their beds are occupied as of Friday afternoon, a spokesperson said.

At Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, there are five ICU beds and two are in use, a spokesperson confirmed. Paul Connor, Stony Brook ELIH’s chief administrative officer, previously said that any patient requiring a ventilator would be transferred to Stony Brook or Southampton hospitals.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo stressed in his media briefing earlier Friday the need for ventilators and he said he had signed an executive order that would allow the state to take unused ventilators from institutions to be brought to areas of greater need. The National Guard will be deployed to bring the ventilators to where they’re needed.

Mr. Bellone said he did not have a number on how many additional ICU beds could soon become available through expansion.

An additional nine fatalities have been linked to COVID-19, bringing the county total to 93, Mr. Bellone said. The latest victims range from their 30s to mid-90s. Most of them died at hospitals.

The rate of overall hospitalizations in the county continues to increase. An additional 244 patients in the last 24 hours brings the total in Suffolk to 1,298. Mr. Bellone said new patients had been about 100 per day and then climbed to 150 and 180 and now well over 200.

There are 648 beds available as of Friday afternoon.

Total confirmed cases climbed by the highest single-day margin for the second straight day. An increase of more than 1,400 cases has brought the county total to 10,030.

Mr. Cuomo during his briefing showed a map with “hotspots” of facilities with the greatest total of COVID-19 related hospitalizations. Stony Brook University Hospital was included in that map. Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip was the only other Suffolk County hospital included.

“You also see an increase on Long Island which is something we’re concerned about,” the governor said. “Long Island does not have as elaborate a health care system as New York City.”

Other notes from Mr. Bellone’s briefing:

• Mr. Bellone pointed to some good news in that 93 COVID-19 patients have been released from hospitals.

• Personal protective equipment is still in high demand and Mr. Bellone said the Hauppauge-based company 71 Visuals has shifted its operation into manufacturing face shields. The county is purchasing 25,000 to be distributed.

Mr. Bellone encouraged any companies willing to manufacture PPE to reach out directly to the county to discuss how to proceed.

“My message to Suffolk county manufactures: Reach out to us,” he said. “We are working with businesses here.”

Companies can even reach out to the county executive’s Facebook page, he said.

• Mr. Bellone again urged people to stay at home as much as possible and to keep socially distant as “the best way to support these hospital workers.”