NEW YORK - At the center of the coronavirus pandemic, nurses gathered last week outside Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx to mourn the deaths of colleagues.
“They get sick, some of us get very sick, and some of us have passed on,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN and president of New York State Nurses Association.
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New York State is not tracking healthcare providers infected by the coronavirus. The city-run hospital system says 924 of its staff members have gotten sick as of last Thursday.
“Overall I think we have massive underreporting,” said Kelley Cabrera, NYSNA President LBU of Jacobi Medical Center. “It wasn’t until April 1 that we, that testing was available to (NYC) Health + Hospitals employees at all.”
The city’s numbers do not include healthcare workers for private hospitals in the city, like Dr. Eugene Perepada, who treats patients both at Mt. Sinai South Nassau on Long Island and Brookdale Hospital in Brooklyn. He self-quarantined after feeling symptoms, but the virus still spread to his wife and infant.
“We had to go to the hospital with her because just being six weeks with fever, you have to go to the emergency room,” Perepada said.
The Centers for Disease Control reported last week that, nationally, nearly 9,300 have become sick and 27 have died. Experts say the actual number probably is much higher.
According to Medscape.com, which tracks deaths among health care workers, 32 providers in New York alone have passed due to the coronavirus. Among them are Kious Kelly, a nurse at Mount Sinai west, Prea Nankieshore, an emergency room clerk at Long Island Jewish Hospital at Forest Hills, and Dr. Ronald Verrier, director of the general surgery department at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
“Everyone is having challenges getting data but it would be really important to get occupational data to the extent you can,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association. “That would help us target and track, and focus efforts around education, looking for deficits in our work infrastructure and that’s particularly important for health.”