New York Downtown Hospital became the only hospital below 16th Street in Manhattan after St. Vincent's shut down last year. This, patients and doctors say, has created an emergency-care crisis in the overcrowded and overwhelmed hospital.
An increase in downtown residents and an increase in the emergency rooms usage also contributes to the crowds, reports the New York Post.
"We have stretchers in the hallways and put patients there. It can get extremely crowded," a veteran ER doctor told the paper. With all of their 160 hospital beds usually full, new patients must wait in the Emergency Department, often for several days. Nurses take care of the chronically ill and emergency cases that come in at a rapid rate.
A Post reporter who visited the hospital recently reported a "chaotic scene" in the department. All the curtained rooms with beds were full, and at least 20 other patients waited in a temporary "holding area" in the ER.
Dr. Antonio Dajer, chief of emergency medicine, told the Post the hospital has "one of the fastest turnaround times in the city." They plan to build new inpatient beds in September.
A spokesman for the hospital disputed the Post report, saying it should be expected that an urban hospital would be unusually busy during a historic heatwave.
"That’s where people suffering health effects from the heat often go. New York Downtown, the only hospital downtown, is typical," Fred Winters, a hospital spokesman, said in a statement. "The average wait in the NY Downtown ER to see a doctor is just 20 minutes and the average stay is two hours."
Despite the vote of confidence from Dajer, New York Downtown received the lowest overall rating of any hospital citywide in a 2010 survey by a consumer watchdog group.