Dr. Stuart Ditchek says NYC hospitals are near ‘breaking point’ in letter to Trump, Cuomo

Brooklyn           The response to coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City has “absolutely” not been enough yet, NYU Langone’s Dr. Stuart Ditchek urged Thursday.

Appearing on “Fox & Friends,” Ditchek said that lives are being lost in Brooklyn, Queens and particularly in poor communities because of the lack of vital equipment like ventilators and high-flow nasal cannula machines, along with a lack of staff members to take care of the influx of patients.

“The models are only as good as the assumptions,” he remarked. “Every community is different. Every city is different. In New York City, it appears that the poorer populations are suffering at a greater rate — certainly of hospitalizations and certainly of poorer outcomes.”

In a letter to President Trump and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Ditchek — as part of the New York Pandemic Response Group — pleaded for further action.

“We are near breaking point in Brooklyn and in Queens. Lives are being lost by the hour…You have the opportunity to avert a disaster here in Brooklyn and Queens that will eclipse that of 9/11,” Ditcheck wrote. “Currently, the towers are on fire but have not yet fallen. We can get more people out now.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Cuomo reiterated that “nobody knows” when the outbreak will be over.

“It is not going to be soon,” he said. “If our apex is 14 to 21 days, that’s our apex. You then have to come down the other side of the mountain once you hit the apex. So calibrate yourself and your expectations so you’re not disappointed every morning you get up.”

On Wednesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city is running out of ventilators and needs 400 by Sunday — and several thousand more over the course of the next week.

Ditchek said the politicians need to allocate their assets to Brooklyn and Queens because “that’s where the fire is burning right now.”

“In other words, the machines that are being brought to New York City right now, in my estimate, is 16,000 ventilators that are needed immediately — 8,000 to the New York City area, 8,000 for the rest of the state. Those machines should not be owned by any one entity. They should be moved from state to state,” he asserted.

Ditchek said the reluctance to act comes from the decision to wait for the apex to hit before bringing over equipment.

“You cannot wait for the apex to hit,” Ditchek stated. “What that means in terms is [the] loss of human lives until we can reach the apex. We don’t want to reach the apex without the equipment.”

The doctor said that while his hospitals are coming up with innovations, help is urgently needed so that their knowledge can be shared with other hard-hit areas of the country.

“Whatever we learn, we are passing on to other states,” he said. “We want to do this unified as a country. Not just here in Brooklyn. Not just in Queens.”


The letter from Dr. Ditchek that was sent out earlier this week pleading doe President Trump and Governor Cuomo to send in emergency equipment immediately:

I am a physician specializing in the care of high-risk individuals for over 30 years and work in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. In the last month, I was recruited to be the New York lead for a pandemic response working group of experts in infectious diseases, epidemiology, and biothreats. My group was responsible for early closure of the majority or yeshivas, synagogues and social distancing community implementation a FULL week prior to the City of New York school system. This intervention saved lives no doubt. I am an attending physician at both Maimonides Medical Center and NYU-Langone, both have campuses in Brooklyn. I have been in the emergency rooms and ICUs in Maimonides daily since this crisis started. We are near breaking point in Brooklyn and in Queens. Lives are being lost by the hour. I have personally lost patients, friends, colleagues and community members in large numbers. I honestly can no longer keep track of the names. Because of my responsibilities, I have not even been able to pay proper condolences remotely as we are now forced to do. I have three urgent requests as we have no options at this point. We need 16K ventilators, 10K sophisticated high-flow nasal cannula machines and large numbers of staff to assist our hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens, both Ground Zero for COVID. My team has worked through a real-time and best estimate justifying 16K ventilators for the state, half for the five boroughs and half for the remaining hospitals statewide. I am attaching the document detailing our process. While we can all argue over the exact number, one fact is clear. If these ventilators are in a local stockpile, release them now. Brooklyn and Queens are in trouble today. It will get worse shortly. We need your intervention immediately. You have the opportunity to avert a disaster here in Brooklyn and Queens that will eclipse that of 9/11. Once we no longer need the equipment and staff here in New York and the apex passes, the wonderful logistics capabilities of the United States government can be used to shift those assets to other states. May God bless you, the people of New York and the United States. With respect, Stuart H. Ditchek, MD, FAAP Faculty, NYU School of Medicine, Langone Medical Center Attending, Maimonides Medical Center Chief Medical Officer, Kids of Courage NYPD, Honorary Police Surgeon


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