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Brooklyn field hospital shuts after $21 million construction — and zero patients

DATE POSTED:May 22, 2020

By Yoav Gonen

This story was originally published on May 21, 2020 by THE CITY.

A nearly $21 million field hospital green-lit by the de Blasio administration when coronavirus threatened to overrun local hospitals has opened and shuttered without treating a single patient, officials confirmed to THE CITY.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans on March 31 to transform the temporarily idle Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook into a 670-bed makeshift medical site.

That same day, he launched a smaller transformation of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing into a 350-bed overflow facility — at a time when more than 8,400 patients were being treated in local hospitals for presumed or confirmed COVID-19.

The tennis center, designed as a release valve for the beleaguered, city-run Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, accepted its first patients April 11.

The Brooklyn Cruise TerminalThe Brooklyn Cruise Terminal (Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY)  

The next day, hospital bed utilization across the city hit its crisis peak of 12,184 — including more than 3,100 patients in critical care, state data shows.

But since April 12, hospital occupancy has dropped steadily — staving off predictive scenarios that could have seen medical centers at least triple their number of beds from 20,000 to 60,000.

Disasters a Specialty

Earlier this month, the makeshift hospital at the tennis center closed after taking in 79 patients, according to City Hall officials. It cost $19.8 million to construct and revert back, the officials said.

The lower-profile Red Hook terminal hospital was slated to open in mid-April but wasn’t ready for service until May 4. By then, citywide hospital utilization had already fallen by half its April 12 highpoint, to about 6,000 patients.

City officials say the $20.8 million site, constructed by Texas-based contractor SLSCO under a no-bid emergency contract, is now being demobilized after seeing no medical activity.

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