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The VA announced on Sunday that it would make available 50 beds to non-veteran, non-COVID-19 patients to help assist New York City in its coronavirus response efforts.
The VA is opening up 15 ICU beds and 35 acute care beds. Five patients were already moved Sunday morning.
“VA is proud to assist the City of New York while continuing its primary mission of caring for our Nation’s Veterans,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.
New York state has become the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus epidemic with more than 53,000 cases and 834 deaths.
Hospital officials, especially in the New York City metropolitan area, have been scrambling to increase hospital capacity with the need projected to reach its peak in 14 to 21 days.
Reports earlier this week described how one New York City municipal hospital, Elmhurst Hospital, in Queens was at the breaking point with the deaths of 13 coronavirus patients in one day.
Elmhurst officials told the New York Post the 545-bed facility was overrun with coronavirus patients and in desperate need of supplies.
VA officials said they acted in response to a request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on behalf of a request for federal assistance from New York state.
The VA made its decision after determining this action would not negatively impact Veteran care.