NYC public hospitals still awaiting FEMA reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses

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THE BRONX, N.Y. — The New York City public hospital system said Friday it’s still waiting on a big reimbursement from FEMA for expenses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NYC Health + Hospitals now has Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Ritchie Torres on its side to help get back all $860 million dollars.

After applying for reimbursement in October of last year, Torres said FEMA only paid back a fraction.

“Health + Hospitals was the epicenter of the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Torres said. “It was the hardest hit public health provider in the United States.”

All 11 of its public hospitals had to expand their capacity to accommodate sick New Yorkers.

Schumer said the systemwide medical search capacity went up by more than 80%, bed capacity increased by 120%, and ICU capacity saw the biggest jump at 360%.

“You think this was free?” Schumer asked. “You think it didn’t cost any money? Of course, it cost a whole lot of money! But did Dr. Katz and the staff say, ‘Cut back’? No! Lives were at stake.”

Marsha Wilson, an emergency room nurse at Lincoln Hospital, said it’s only right the hospitals get their money back.

“I was dreading coming to work, but I came anyway to be supportive to my colleagues. I want to say to you all that it wasn’t easy, but we did it and we deserve to be reimbursed for all that we have done,” she said.

Dr. Aycan Turkmen of Coney Island Hospital said even after losing their own, they’re still doing their jobs.

“A friend of mine, a nurse, another PA, another doctor all fell to this disease, but we will stay here and keep taking care of everyone to the best of our ability — and FEMA and the United States government has to come through for us,” Dr. Turkmen said.

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