Public/Global Health

Manhattan cathedral will serve as coronavirus field hospital

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The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York will serve as a coronavirus field hospital, the church announced Monday.

The church, which describes itself as the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, will have at least 200 patients inside under nine climate-controlled medical tents by the end of the week, the Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III told The New York Times.

Daniel, the dean of the cathedral, said it will be the first time the building has served this purpose, adding that it first offered its space last month.

“The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is stepping up now, as we always have, to help support our diverse and beloved community and the community of doctors, nurses, and volunteers risking their health and well-being in the service of the people of New York City in our hour of need,” he said in a statement obtained by The Hill.

The cathedral’s crypt will be transformed into “a staging area” for medical personnel, Daniel said. 

About 400 beds were delivered to the cathedral last week and three tents sat at the loading dock Monday, James Patterson, the cathedral’s director of facilities and capital projects, told the newspaper. Patients are expected to come by the end of this week or early next week.

It’s unclear if COVID-19 patients will come to the cathedral, but the church leadership is “assuming” so. 

The cathedral, located in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood, will be staffed by Mount Sinai Morningside Hospital, which sits next door to it.

Patterson said there will be challenges to using the space, such as finding a way to bathe patients. 

Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian humanitarian organization, has been involved in developing the cathedral as a field hospital. The group also built a field hospital in Central Park last month.

The virus has struck the city hard, with 68,776 confirmed cases, 15,333 hospitalizations and 2,738 deaths, according to its health department. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has been warning about hospitals becoming overwhelmed by the growing number of COVID-19 patients.

—Updated Tuesday at 10:16 a.m.

Tags Andrew Cuomo Coronavirus COVID-19 field hospital hospitals New York New York Samaritan's Purse The New York Times

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