By Emily Drooby
New York City can sleep a little bit easier — the USNS Comfort has docked safely at Manhattan’s Pier 90. The hospital ship will be up and running quickly, accepting patients as early as March 31.
The city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio gave a warm welcome to the floating hospital while other New Yorkers lined Pier 90’s fence to catch a glimpse.
De Blasio called it an inspiring sight. “It’s not just about the beds, and the doctors and the equipment, it’s also about hope,” he explained. “It’s also about boosting the morale of New Yorkers who are going through so much. It’s about saying to our heroes in the hospitals that help has come.”
COVID -19 patients will not be treated on the ship. Instead, they’ll take other cases on board to free up space in hospitals.
The ship has 1,000 beds and is staffed by 1200 medical personnel. Just like a normal hospital, it has operating rooms, a lab, a pharmacy, and even a CAT scan.
It was supposed to take two weeks to get the ship to New York City, but thanks to the hard work of many, it only took eight days, showing up during a very critical time.
“I want you to understand the sheer magnitude of the plan, we have to triple our hospital bed capacity in New York City by May,” the mayor said.
During his daily press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo applauded New Yorkers for continuing to pave the way during this crisis.
“We’re dealing with this pandemic at a level of intensity, density, that no one has seen before. And hopefully we will learn lessons here, that we can then share with people across this nation,” he said.
This isn’t the first time the Comfort has been a beacon of hope for New York City. It came to the Big Apple after September 11, 2001, in an effort to help first responders.