NYC to Create Its Own Strategic Reserve for Hospital Supplies

(Bloomberg) -- New York City is creating its own strategic reserve of medical equipment and supplies to make sure it’s prepared for any future pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

“We have learned the hard way that we cannot depend on the federal government,” the mayor said Tuesday at a press briefing.

The city will stockpile ventilators and protective gear for health workers -- surgical gowns, masks, face guards and gloves -- both locally made and purchased elsewhere. In early March, hospitals reported they were close to running out of ventilators. The city now has enough to get through April, the mayor said.

The newest innovation, a “bridge ventilator” made within the past month by Boyce Technologies in Long Island City, Queens, will stretch the city’s supply of breathing-assist machines. The equipment, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, are modeled on balloon-like devices that pump air into a patient’s lungs by hand, except they electronically monitor vital signs.

The invention will allow hospitals to reserve full-service ventilators for the most severe cases of respiratory distress, said Mitchell Katz, who heads the city’s public hospital system. The city will purchase 3,000 of them, each for $3,333, according to the mayor’s office. Regular ventilators can cost as much as $50,000, de Blasio said. Officials have previously announced they intend to buy locally made diagnostic testing kits, and purchase tens of thousands more from a company in Indiana.

The city was forced to go it alone after the federal government didn’t provide enough supplies, de Blasio said. City officials expect to spend $3.5 billion by the end of the year.

The spread of the virus appears to have slowed, with citywide hospital admissions down to 204 on April 18 from 212 the previous day. Yet, intensive-care patients in public hospitals bumped up slightly in that period, to 857 from 853.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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