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Northwell, South Nassau get ventilators from Orthodox Jewish organization

The Northwell Health hospital group, which includes Long

The Northwell Health hospital group, which includes Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, has received 25 ventilators from the Orthodox Jewish organization Hatzolah. Credit: Howard Simmons

Two major Long Island hospital groups have received a fresh supply of ventilators from an affiliate of the Orthodox Jewish organization Hatzolah to aid in their fight against the deadly coronavirus, Newsday has learned.

Northwell Health, a regional hospital group based in New Hyde Park, received 25 ventilators and Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside obtained 10 ventilators from the Hatzolah Emergency Air Response Team, known as Hatzolah Air.

For decades, Hatzolah volunteers have provided emergency medical services primarily to Jewish communities on Long Island, in New York City and elsewhere.

Both hospital groups say they have enough ventilators for severely ill patients who need them.

But officials said the new supply will help doctors avoid having to make life-or-death decisions based on the availability of ventilators, particularly if the number of acutely ill patients surges. 

“Every ventilator we receive is important and helpful, given the uncertainty of how long this crisis will last and the extent of the patient volume,” said Terry Lynam, a spokesman for the 23-hospital Northwell Health system that includes North Shore University, Huntington and Glen Cove hospitals along with Long Island Jewish and Peconic Bay medical centers. 

Lynam said 22% of Northwell’s 3,425 COVID-positive patients are on ventilators, and about 80% of Northwell’s ventilators are in use.

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Mount Sinai South has 68 virus patients on ventilators, with another 32 machines available.

“As we don’t know for certain how many patients will need ventilators, each vent has the potential to save a life, so they are critical in this fight against COVID-19,” said spokesman Joe Calderone. 

Overall, government records show that more than 800 virus patients are intubated at hospitals around Long Island. 

With the coronavirus severely impacting the Five Towns area and other parts of Long Island, Hatzolah Air recently approached both hospital groups with offers to donate ventilators.

The nonprofit group, affiliated with the larger Hatzolah organization, provides emergency transport for medical and humanitarian missions.

“We’re thrilled to do our part,” said Eli Rowe, 50, a director of the Queens-based Hatzolah team. 

“We didn’t say it was just for Jewish patients — we gave it without restrictions,” Rowe said. The organization collected the machines from various domestic suppliers and organizations, but “we don’t have a large supply,” he said.

Dr. Aaron Glatt, department of medicine chairman at Mount Sinai South Nassau, said officials had “heard about the ethical dilemmas that hospitals are going to be in if they have to ration ventilators and, heaven forbid, have to take someone off a ventilator, which poses tremendous ethical problems.”

Glatt, a rabbi, called the ventilators from Hatzolah Air “a large donation — both in terms of money and unbelievable need — that will be used literally 24/7. I wish it wasn’t so. But it will be used every single day for the upcoming weeks, saving lives.”

Hatzolah Air is also providing ventilators to a Brooklyn hospital and a medical facility in Rockland County, Rowe said.

He said the group is working to help create a hospital-like facility inside yeshiva Sh’or Yoshuv in Lawrence, where Northwell Health is considering placing moderately ill “low acuity” patients who do not need ventilators. 

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