- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A $52 million coronavirus hospital once billed as “crucial” by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio served a total of 79 patients before closing May 13.

An exposé by The New York Times details the bureaucratic debacle that unfolded after the temporary hospital was rushed into existence at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The piece by Michael Rothfeld, Robin Stein, and Susan C. Beachy covered “missteps made at every level of government” soon after the hospital’s April 10 opening.

“I basically got paid $2,000 a day to sit on my phone and look at Facebook,” a nurse practitioner told the newspaper. “We all felt guilty. I felt really ashamed, to be honest.”

“Knowing what our patients had to endure in an overcrowded emergency department, it’s frustrating how few patients were treated at facilities such as Billie Jean King,” added Dr. Timothy Tan, the director of clinical operations at the Queens Hospital Center emergency department.

In March, however, Mr. de Blasio assured the city that the facility was an essential part of the “war effort” against coronavirus.

“This facility will be crucial,” he said.

Jackie Bray, an aide to the mayor, told the newspaper that it was determined that patients would receive better care at established — but crowded — hospitals.

“The alternative space was less used than we expected it to be because we broke the curve, thank goodness,” she added.

Elizabeth Ianelli, a social worker at the site, provided a far different perspective.

Ms. Ianelli noted that three men who were forced to quarantine inside a Manhattan hotel died when they should have been in the newly built facility.

The newspaper reported that “several” others concurred.

Ms. Bray said the federal government would likely reimburse the city for the facility, which may top off at over $100 million once additional costs are calculated.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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