Governor says state will take excess ventilators from upstate hospitals

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 April 2020 at 2:33 pm

‘I’m not going to let people die because we didn’t redistribute ventilators.’ – Andrew Cuomo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is issuing an executive order and sending the National Guard to take excess ventilators from upstate hospitals and send them to downstate hospitals overwhelmed by people infected with the coronavirus.

The governor also said he will redistribute masks, gowns and other protective equipment from hospitals that have an excess supply to sites facing a dire shortage.

The governor said he has tried all other options for more ventilators. He is hopeful the executive order can yield several hundred ventilators for the downstate and Long Island hospitals.

“I’m not going to be in a position where people are dying and we have several hundred ventilators in our own state somewhere else,” Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany today. “I apologize for the hardship to those institutions. Ultimately there is no hardship. If you don’t get the ventilator back I give you my personal word we will pay you for the ventilator. I’m not going to let people die because we didn’t redistribute ventilators.”

The governor’s announcement met rebuke around the state from high-ranking Republican elected officials.

State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, issued this statement: “The governor’s executive order to seize ventilators from Upstate and Western New York hospitals and move them to New York City endangers the residents, healthcare professionals, and individuals currently experiencing complications due to the COVID-19 virus here in Western New York.

“As the virus spreads across New York, with cases in Upstate and Western New York on the rise, the confiscation of these stockpiles for shipment downstate will leave our healthcare system dangerously low when our apex arrives.

“Monetary reimbursements for these life-saving pieces of equipment will not do our healthcare professionals nor our residents any good if there are no ventilators or PPE available for purchase. I understand the current emergency facing the residents of New York City; however, the health and safety of Upstate and Western New York healthcare workers and residents are just as important as those living downstate.”

Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, represents the 23rdCongressional District. He made this statement on Twitter: “We stand together opposing the Governor’s very dangerous and reckless action of taking our ventilators. He is leaving our communities in a terrible position which will cost lives.”

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Schuylerville, represents the 21stCongressioanl District in the North Country.

“I am very concerned about the Governor’s announcement regarding shifting ventilators from Upstate to Downstate,” she posted on Twitter. “I represent demographically the largest number of seniors of any District in NY. This is the most vulnerable age group facing #COVID-19 & needs to be considered.”

Cuomo said hospitals will have ventilators come back if they face their own need. He urged the state to work together during this crisis.

“Several hundred ventilators could represent several hundred lives,” Cuomo said. “Am I willing to deploy the National Guard and inconvenience people for several hundred lives? You’re damn right I am.”

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