New York has lost a staggering 20,000 hospital beds over the last two decades to budget cuts and insurance overhauls, complicating local and state efforts to battle the coronavirus, according to records and experts.
The Empire State had 73,931 licensed hospital beds in 2000 before years of cuts and closures shrank the number to just 53,000 in 2020, according to records obtained by the New York State Nurses Association from the state Health Department and stats provided by officials.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the health officials believe they will need anywhere from 55,000 to 110,000 hospital beds to treat the expected wave of coronavirus victims.
“New York has closed too many beds. They went too far,” said Judy Wessler, former head of the NY Commission on the Public’s Health System, about the 28 percent drop in beds.
Those cutbacks mean the state is in a significantly deeper deficit as it searches for ways to expand its capacity to treat COVID-19 victims.
“This is going to crash the health care system,” Cuomo warned, as he again reiterated his request to President Trump that the Army Corps of Engineers be dispatched to help New York state build emergency hospital capacity.