Queens’ US Open tennis complex will become a 350-bed hospital to relieve Elmhurst Hospital

April 1, 2020

Photo by Michael Vadon on Flickr

A 350-bed medical facility will be built at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens to ease the pressure the Elmhurst Hospital has been facing amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Construction began at the site in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which hosts the US Open tournament, yesterday. The city’s Emergency Management selected the site to serve as a temporary facility, which will begin treating COVID non-ICU patients beginning next Tuesday, April 7th. The center’s indoor courts will be converted into the medical facility, with its Louis Armstrong Stadium set to become a place for volunteers to assemble 25,000 meal packages per day for patients, workers, and students.

“We’re there to do whatever the city and state needs,” Chris Widmaier, a spokesperson for the U.S. Tennis Association, told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re approaching the toughest weeks of this crisis, and our City is rising to the challenge,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are increasing hospital capacity at breakneck speed to ensure that every person in need of care will get it – no questions asked.”

As of Wednesday morning, New York City had nearly 45,000 cases of the virus, with a majority found in Queens (14,966 cases) and Brooklyn (12,076 cases). Throughout the entire state, there are 83,712 positive cases and 1,941 deaths.

New York City and State officials are working with the federal government to increase hospital capacity across the state as it faces an impending shortage of more than 85,000 beds. The 1,000-bed Navy Ship USNS Comfort arrived on Monday in New York Harbor to serve those who do not have the virus.

The temporary FEMA hospital at the Javits Center officially opened to patients, and work has begun on four federally-approved, temporary hospitals in the city, including at the Aqueduct Racetrack, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the CUNY College of Staten Island, and the New York Expo Center. Smaller temporary facilities have also been proposed for Staten Island’s South Beach Psychiatric Center, the Bronx’s Westchester Square, and the Health Alliance in Ulster County.

The state is looking to build temporary hospitals with a 1,000-plus patient overflow capacity in Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. And emergency beds are being set up at college dormitories and hotels, including at the Marriott Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Center Nursing Home, CUNY City College, and CUNY Queens College.

In addition, yesterday Mayor de Blasio announced a partnership with FEMA to bring 250 more ambulances and roughly 500 more EMTs and paramedics to New York City.


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