North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset.

North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Credit: Northwell Health

New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health, which operates 11 Long Island hospitals, said it was able to increase the number of ventilators it has in its network by 50% over the past week as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the region.

Northwell, the largest private employer in the state with more than 72,000 employees, would not disclose how many ventilators it has or how many it acquired.

The ventilators cost between $10,000 and $40,000 per unit, said Terry Lynam, a Northwell spokesman.

“A benefit to being a system of our size is we have a lot of relationships with suppliers,” Lynam said. “They’re being as accommodating as can be.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, during a round of television appearances Thursday, said projections show about 110,000 people statewide requiring hospitalization in five to six weeks, with 25,000 to 30,000 requiring ICU beds, which he defined as hospital beds with ventilators.

Cuomo said Thursday there are only about 5,000 to 6,000 ventilators available in the state.

Cuomo also has said “our main scramble now is for ventilators,” which are in short supply and critical for many people with severe cases of the respiratory illness. 

Other regional health systems said they’re also buying more equipment and supplies, but wouldn’t go into specifics.

Manhattan-based Mount Sinai Health System, which operates Oceanside-based Mount Sinai South Nassau, said it was preparing for worst-case scenarios.

"As a system, we’re changing our policies as needed and in real time, freeing up physical space to expand capacity to serve COVID-19-positive patients, and freeing up staff and resources to manage this crisis however we can,” said Dr. Jeremy Boal, president of Mount Sinai Downtown in Manhattan. “We’re also in the process of securing additional protective equipment and other critical care equipment, and working closely with state and city officials to mitigate this public health crisis."

Mount Sinai South Nassau executives said they're also repurposing ventilators that would have been used during elective surgeries for potential COVID 19 patients.

Rockville Centre-based Catholic Health Services of Long Island said it was working with the governor's office, the state Department of Health and the county office of emergency management to procure more ventilators.

“CHS has taken steps to ensure that all of its critical care team resources, including ventilators, are functional and ready for appropriate clinical use," said Dr. Patrick O'Shaughnessy, executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Catholic Health Services. "This includes cancellation of elective case surgical volume such as complex surgeries requiring Intensive Care Units [ICU] and ventilatory support, allowing CHS to maximize its existing ventilators for COVID-19 patients."

In a statement, Stony Brook University Hospital executives said the hospital was "actively working on securing additional ventilators. We have already expanded our ICU beds by nearly 70% and this number will continue to rise in the coming days."

Northwell said its purchase of ventilators has been part of a larger spending spree that includes equipment and protective gear for employees. Lynam said Northwell spent about $5.5 million in January and part of February on masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies in preparation for coronavirus treatment.

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