Field Hospital Staffers Provide Around-the-Clock Care in New York’s Central Park

April 17, 2020 • United States

Our Samaritan’s Purse team is treating dozens of people suffering with coronavirus.

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UPDATED (through April 17):
Since opening our Emergency Field Hospital in New York City, the Samaritan’s Purse medical team has treated more than 140 patients. One of our patients is Jose, who, upon seeing his wife standing on Fifth Avenue, was completely overwhelmed. Jose hadn’t seen her since he was admitted to our field hospital last week. Although she couldn’t enter the facility, Jose stood outside the patient ward and waved to his wife across the street. “She kept screaming, ‘I love you! Keep fighting!’ It was an amazing experience,” Jose said.

Our staff gather for a Easter sunrise worship service.

Our staff gather for an Easter sunrise worship service.

Jose is a small business owner from Queens. He grew up boxing and even competed professionally for about a decade. He is used to being strong and healthy, so when he started feeling incredibly weak and fatigued, he knew these were the first indicators that something wasn’t quite right.

The fatigue only worsened and so did the painful, persistent cough he had developed. Jose went to a doctor and they sent him home with a flu diagnosis.

Yet, he never showed any signs of turning a corner and eventually had to go to the hospital, where he waited several hours in the emergency room before being seen due to the staggering number of severely sick patients. Jose was tested and diagnosed with COVID-19.

“I will never forget those hours waiting. It was the hardest time of my life,” he said. “I felt so alone.”

But now, things are looking up. Jose seems to be on the road to recovery and is ready to be reunited with his wife and children. He is grateful for the care he is receiving in our hospital. “The people are excellent, professional, and they have a great heart,” he said.

The Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park opened on April 1 to care for those suffering with COVID-19. We have admitted 142 patients since we opened and, in general, are treating around 50 patients at any given time.

We are set up in East Meadow in Central Park.

We are set up in East Meadow in Central Park.

“This is a battle—a battle against the disease,” said Dr. Elliott Tenpenny, director of the Samaritan’s Purse International Health Unit. Tenpenny is serving in New York City.

Our 14-tent, 68-bed respiratory care unit was designed especially for this coronavirus response; among other notable features, the mobile medical facility includes 10 ICU beds equipped with ventilators. Patients are coming to us from our partner, the Mount Sinai Health System, which has, like other healthcare facilities, been overwhelmed by those sickened with the virus.

“Samaritan’s Purse has been asked to help in New York as the state and their medical infrastructure have been overwhelmed by the coronavirus,” said Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse. “We are grateful to be working alongside Mount Sinai Health System to help meet this critical need. In a time of crisis, we all have to come together to help people who are suffering. Samaritan’s Purse is responding in Jesus’ Name—please pray for everyone affected by this deadly virus.”

  • Our trucks left North Carolina on March 28 to transport the field hospital.
    Our trucks left North Carolina on March 28 to transport the field hospital to New York.

We have a Disaster Assistance Response Team of more than 70 doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel/relief specialists on the ground providing expert care and serving suffering people in Jesus’ Name. Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains are also working and ministering beside us. Our convoy of trucks arrived in the city on March 28 and our staff, along with many local volunteers, worked tirelessly to prepare the hospital to receive patients.

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“Mount Sinai Health System is grateful for the partnership with the Governor and Mayor in their leadership and support in the fight against this pandemic,” said Margaret Pastuszko, executive vice president, chief operating officer, and chief strategy officer, Mount Sinai Health System.

“In order to meet the needs of the coming surge, we must work as a united front in order save as many lives as possible. We are grateful for the collaboration with Samaritan’s Purse who have come to the aid of the people of Italy and now New York. Through this partnership, we are leveraging our collective resources to care for our patients and community.”

Dr. David Reich (right), tours our field hospital with Samaritan's Purse staff Ken Isaacs (middle), Vice President of Programs and Government Relations.

Dr. David Reich (right), tours our field hospital with Samaritan’s Purse staff Ken Isaacs (middle), Vice President of Programs and Government Relations.

Dr. David L. Reich and other Mount Sinai staff toured the field hospital with our team before it opened. Reich is president and chief operating officer of The Mount Sinai Hospital and President of Mount Sinai Queens, both part of the Mount Sinai Health System.

Trusting God During Crisis

Kristen Dirks is a nurse working in our hospital’s intensive care unit, where we are treating our sickest patients. Kristen said that knowing her patients are suffering is tragic and heartbreaking.

“This is unlike any respiratory illness I’ve seen. Saturations decrease quickly, the work of breathing increases quickly, and patients need help fast.”

One of our patients, a local police officer, was in desperate need when he arrived at the field hospital. “My oxygen levels dropped one night and that’s when I called an ambulance. I ended up here the next day,” he said.

Staff gather to pray as the day shift team prepares to step in for the night shift.

Staff gather to pray as the day shift team prepares to step in for the night shift.

The police officer said his sister is at home caring for his three children, as his wife and his parents have also tested positive for the coronavirus. Being separated from his family is devastating. “We’re a very tight-knit family. Not to be able to hug my kids is hard.”

But Kristen and our medical staff are doing all they can to demonstrate God’s love to those who are hurting.

“I want to say thank you for absolutely everything,” the officer said. “From the prayers to the attention that they’ve given me since I’ve been here. It’s amazing.”

Kristen is grateful that the Samaritan’s Purse team can encourage and serve alongside New York healthcare providers in the fight against COVID-19. “I am thankful to be working here, providing the highest quality care that we can, and relieving some of the pressure that these hospital systems have been facing for weeks,” she said.

Kristen and our team continue to rely on God for strength during this difficult and challenging time. “God has not left us,” she said. “God is in control. God is here.”

Staff don personal protective equipment before beginning their shift.

Staff don personal protective equipment before beginning their shift.

Please pray for our New York City team as they demonstrate God’s love to every patient who comes to the field hospital.

The situation in New York is dire, with the city’s Health Department so far reporting more than 12,000 deaths and about 122,000 COVID-19 cases. More than 32,000 people are estimated to be hospitalized in the city as a result of the virus.

Overall, the United States is reporting about 688,000 active coronavirus cases—the highest of any nation in the world—and, sadly, more than 35,000 deaths throughout the country.

Pray also for our Disaster Assistance Response Team serving in Italy, where Samaritan’s Purse has another 68-bed Emergency Field Hospital set up outside of Milan. Pray that God will soon bring an end to this deadly pandemic. More than 2.2 million infections have been reported worldwide, with over 150,000 deaths.

If you are a Christian healthcare professional, please go here to apply to serve in Jesus’ Name during this COVID-19 response.

This article was originally published on April 1 and the final update was made April 17.

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We began today receiving patients at the respiratory care unit.
Emergency Medicine Whether deploying our Emergency Field Hospital in the wake of COVID-19, setting up treatment centers in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, or offering care in the midst of armed conflict, Samaritan's Purse stands ready to respond in the face of a myriad of medical crises. Your gift will help bring expert treatment and the hope of the Gospel to the sick and suffering.

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