Canceled plans for field hospital inside New York Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine


A New York City hospital has now canceled plans to turn New York’s Cathedral Church of St. John the God into an emergency center for overflow patients. Mount Sinai Hospital said the change in plans is due to apparent progress in reducing the number of new infections.

“Based on the most recent data, we are optimistic about the flattening of the curve. As such, we are reassessing the needs, resources and plans on how best to care for New Yorkers,” said Hospital spokesman Jason Kaplan told CBS News on Friday. .

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday expressed optimism that the state was now “bending the curve” of the coronavirus – but noted that it was still battling its worst effects. New York reported its highest single-day death toll, 779 one-day deaths, for the third consecutive day Wednesday.

Kaplan said Mount Sinai “will continue to look for other ways to expand care as the pandemic continues to unfold. Our singular focus remains to help all New Yorkers in this time of crisis and to do so. that we do best: save lives ”.

The cathedral’s deputy, Reverend Patrick Malloy, told Episcopal News Service that the decision not to go ahead with the field hospital was made by Mount Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse, the organization of evangelical Christian aid who also set up medical tents. in Central Park in New York.

“Mount Sinai, which is investing a lot of money in this (COVID-19 effort), has decided that given the downturn in the curve, they could better use the money elsewhere, and Samaritan’s Purse could team up with more effectively elsewhere, “Malloy told ENS.” There has been a change in the rate of hospital admissions and all kinds of things leading the hospital to make different decisions. “

The church, which is located next to Mount Sinai in Morningside Heights, was preparing to start welcoming patients by the end of the week. The “mother church” of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and the seat of its bishop, was to accommodate at least 200 patients.

NY sees its curve flatten but the number of deaths increases


Earlier this week, the dean of the cathedral, The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel III, told the New York Times that nine medical tents were to be set up inside the nave of the church – where thousands of chairs normally accommodate the faithful. The cathedral’s crypt, which passes under the 600-foot-long nave, would serve as a “staging area” for medical personnel, he said.

Saint-Jean-le-Dieu is the largest cathedral in the world and one of the five largest religious buildings “measured by length or internal volume,” according to its website.

As of Thursday evening, New York City had 87,725 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 21,500 hospitalizations. The city’s high number of cases has made it the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States and has resulted in the establishment of several emergency field hospitals, including one Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort.

“Amid the coronavirus pandemic and an overwhelmed health system, the cathedral has offered to use its grounds and the cathedral building itself to help meet the most urgent needs of our neighbors,” said the cathedral said in a blog post. “The Church has mobilized to meet the health care needs in New York City in the past, and we are committed to continue to escalate the current crisis.”

James gandolfini
A 2013 archive photo of the interior of St. John’s Cathedral on the Upper West Side of New York City.

Richard Drew / AP

The charity group involved in the plans, Samaritan’s Purse, is led by Franklin Graham, son of influential evangelist Billy Graham and a prominent supporter of President Trump.

Graham’s story of anti-Muslims and anti gay The rhetoric prompted Mayor Bill de Blasio to seek assurance from Samaritan’s Purse that he would comply with the city’s anti-discrimination laws while providing treatment. Daniel told The Times that the cathedral’s partnership with Graham’s organization did not indicate endorsement of his views.

“I don’t agree with their position on Muslims and gays and a number of other things, but I am ready to work with them to save lives,” he said. “I feel like it’s a bit like the steward of the Titanic as it sinks – now is not the time to count the silverware, you have to get people into lifeboats. “

Daniel said in a statement to the Episcopal News Service that cathedrals have long served as “refuge and healing in times of plague and community crisis.”

“The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is now stepping up, as we always have, to help support our diverse and beloved community and the community of doctors, nurses and volunteers risking their health and their well-being in the service of the people of New York City in our hour of need. “


Martha J. Finley