Feds delivering $1 billion to COVID-ravaged city hospitals: Schumer
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making a special delivery: nearly $1 billion in coronavirus emergency relief funds to New York City’s public hospital system as health care workers battle the latest Omicron outbreak.
FEMA’s allocation of $924.4 million is reimbursement for services the 11 public hospitals and five other nursing facilities provided to treat and try to save the lives of very sick patients during the devastating initial COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, Sen. Charles Schumer told The Post Wednesday night.
The city’s Health + Hospital system — particularly its Elmhurst hospital — served communities in the epicenter of the deadly surge during the spring of 2020. So many patients died that make-shift morgues were set up outside the hospitals.
Schumer will formally announce the COVID-19 hospital emergency funding jointly on Thursday with city Mayor Eric Adams and Bronx Congressman Ritchie Torres.
The feds previously provided $266 million, bringing total reimbursement to NYC Health + Hospitals to $1.19 billion.
The funding provides 100 percent reimbursement to cover staffing, equipment and patient care during the emergency and will help shore up the finances of the stretched hospital system.
Schumer said he personally appealed to President Biden after complaining that FEMA attempted to shortchange city hospitals by reimbursing Health + Hospitals for only a fraction of what was requested. He previously scrapped with FEMA over slow-walking the release of COVID funds.
“This is great news. I leaned on FEMA and the White House. Our hospitals were getting stiffed,” Schumer said during an interview.
He complained FEMA had antiquated rules that based emergency funding on opening new facilities while excluding reimbursement for the repurposing of existing hospital space to treat COVID patients.
“The rules didn’t make any sense,” Schumer, the powerful Senate Majority Leader from New York said.
“The funding couldn’t come at a better time with the Omicron outbreak. Our hospitals need the money.”
Mayor Eric Adams, who got a call from Schumer about the funds Wednesday, welcomed the federal support as he fights the raging COViD Omicron surge during his first week in office.
“Getting our city back means getting through this Omicron surge—and this reimbursement for our hospitals comes at a critical time for New York,” Adams said.
“Thank you to Sen. Schumer and the city congressional delegation for delivering these resources to support our hospitals and our healthcare professionals who are once again stepping up to push COVID back.”
Congressman Ritchie Torres, who represents the South Bronx, said the hospital funding is desperately needed.
“New York City was the earliest epicenter of the coronavirus. NYC Health + Hospitals was hit the hardest because they serve the most vulnerable among us,” Torres said.
“COVID 19 affects all of us, but those effects are often uneven. It has a disproportionately more deadly and destructive impact on the very communities that Health + Hospitals exists to serve in the lowest income communities of color.”
He said the “healthcare heroes of Health + Hospitals” are the “most essential of the essential workers and “the heartbeat of New York City.”
“We are proud to honor Health + Hospitals not only with words, but by securing this crucial reimbursement of over $1B.”