US military transferred 18 Covid-19 patients after an emergency with oxygen supply at New York City hospital
Posted April 8, 2020 6:17 p.m. EDT
CNN — A New York City hospital had issues with its oxygen supply on Tuesday night, causing the urgent transfer of multiple patients to be cared for elsewhere, Gen. Terrence O'Shaughessy told CNN.
"They needed to transfer those patients immediately, as quick as possible, because their lives were dependent on it," said O'Shaughnessy, the commander of US Northern Command overseeing the military response.
A team of 37 military doctors, nurses and technicians in full personal protective equipment moved 18 patients via ambulance to different facilities for urgent care. Ten patients were moved to the USNS Comfort, which is anchored in New York Harbor, five to Mount Sinai Hospital, two to Bellevue Hospital and one to North Central Bronx Hospital, the General said.
O'Shaughessy said the military is there to be used for just such an emergency at area hospitals.
"We are postured to be that relief valve for the overall system," he said.
"It was challenging they were all in various significant states of acute medical needs," all on ventilators and some were in the most critical condition, he added. "When they got to Comfort, several of them were crashing, so they had to provide that immediate medical assistance. ... The doctors from the Comfort had to respond in the ambulance and then get them stabilized and then bring them into the Comfort."
A source with knowledge of the operations at multiple hospitals said the New York City area hospital had "major problems with excess ice accumulation on their overburdened medical oxygen systems."
It is common for liquid oxygen tanks to accumulate ice when there is an increased demand for the oxygen, the source said. When more than half of a unit is covered, it can decrease the oxygen unit's capacity.
Oxygen is often used to treat Covid-19 patients who are experiencing respiratory distress.