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Lawrence yeshiva converts gym into field hospital for coronavirus patients

Yeshiva Shor' Yoshuv in Lawrence on Friday.

Yeshiva Shor' Yoshuv in Lawrence on Friday. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

A yeshiva in Lawrence is working to create its own hospital-like facility to help treat those affected by the deadly coronavirus, according to health and local officials.

Yeshiva Sh'or Yoshuvs has put together what is described as a “field hospital” within its gym and other areas inside the yeshiva and is working with Northwell Health to make it operational, the officials said.

A spokesman for Northwell, the state’s largest hospital system, said it is negotiating with the yeshiva to open a location to treat moderately ill “low acuity” COVID-19 patients, especially when the virus is expected to peak later this month.

Spokesman Terry Lynam said state and local approvals are needed before the facility can be used to treat patients.

“The idea is if we need additional space,” Lynam said. “We reached out to them.” He said patients taken to the yeshiva won’t rely on ventilators for treatment and that none of Northwell’s intensive care patients would be sent there.

Lynam said Northwell is considering five additional locations for similar treatment centers that could be housed in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hotels or colleges with gymnasiums.

Lawrence and neighboring Woodmere have among the highest per-capita rates of confirmed coronavirus infections in Long Island communities. The Lawrence and Woodmere rates, which both exceed 1,400 cases per 100,000 residents, are more than three times the Long Island average, according to a Newsday analysis of county health department data. Lawrence was recorded with 102 confirmed cases, Woodmere with 256 as of Thursday.

In a statement, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said she did not have all of the details about the proposed hospital but appreciated the effort.

“From what we are learning, community donors stepped up to make this happen,” she said. “If that is the case, they should be applauded.  It is actions like these that are desperately needed in times of crisis.”

State department of health officials did not respond to requests for comment

Officials of the yeshiva, located on Cedar Lawn Avenue, did not return requests for an interview. Lawrence Deputy Mayor Michael Fragin said the village government is supportive of the yeshiva’s efforts.

A local news website posted a photo said to show hospital beds surrounded by privacy screens in the yeshiva’s gym. Lynam said the yeshiva “may be getting ready” by preparing the beds, but that it won’t be accepting patients until final approvals are granted.

- With Matt Clark