The ship’s low intake is partly due to strict restrictions over how patients are admitted on board, the fact that the Comfort isn’t allowing 49 other ailments, and the lack of non-coronavirus patients in the city right now.
One hospital director told to The Times that the Comfort’s mission is “a joke” because it isn’t actually helping in a meaningful way.
But as of late Thursday, just 20 patients were being treated on board the ship, according to The New York Times, in part because of strict restrictions over how patients are admitted on board, and because there aren’t many non-coronavirus patients in the city at the moment.
New Yorkers peer through a fence at Pier 90 during the arrival of USNS Comfort on March 30, 2020.
In order to get on the ship, patients must first be taken to a hospital, where they are tested for COVID-19.
But the ship isn’t accepting patients with 49 other ailments as well, according to a list sent around to the local hospitals.
Only once that person’s issues are determined to fit the scope of the ship’s treatment offerings can that person be taken by ambulance to the Comfort.
One hospital director called the ship “a joke” because it isn’t actually helping the city’s hospitals in a meaningful way if it’s not accepting COVID-19 patients.
“If I’m blunt about it, it’s a joke,” said Michael Dowling, the head of Northwell Health, New York’s largest hospital system. He told The Times he’s had to tear his hospitals apart, turning lobbies and conference rooms into wards to treat hundreds of coronavirus patients.
“It’s pretty ridiculous,” he told The Times. “If you’re not going to help us with the people we need help with, what’s the purpose?”
Vice President Mike Pence aboard the USNS Comfort in 2019.
The US Navy did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Capt. Patrick Amersbach, who is leading the Comfort, told a news conference that if the ship’s mission is changed and it is asked to accept COVID-19 cases, it will reconfigure the ship to make it happen.
“If our mission shifts, we do what we can to meet that mission,” he said.