The military’s medical ‘relief valves’ remain mostly empty in New York. This is why.
“It’s been frustrating watching people reinventing the wheel as they’re going along,” said Stuart Weiss, an emergency doctor and mass-casualty expert who founded the medical consulting group Intelligent Crowd Solutions, headquartered in Manhattan. “The first day it was like three patients,” he said of Javits’s slow start, “and then it was four patients, and I was like, ugh!”The tale of these two temporary hospitals is one of disconnect between public expectations and political declarations, and what’s possible to achieve — logistically and medically — under the circumstances. Covid-19 patients can deteriorate rapidly and suddenly, even when they seem to be on the mend, and often require oxygen for days or weeks. With an increase in the severity of cases treated comes the need for more equipment and staffing. And at the moment, it remains to be seen whether either the Javits Center or the Comfort can adequately care for very many of the most seriously ill covid-19 patients, as state and federal officials have indicated is their new mission.Between the two, there are 1,200 beds available, military officials said — far fewer than the 3,000 described in public statements by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) or the 5,000 touted in