CityMD adjusts hours citing overwhelmed employees

Stephon Johnson | 11/19/2020, midnight
Most people in the city can claim exhaustion when it comes to 2020. Frontline workers are at the front of ...
COVID-19 tests Image by Vesna Harni from Pixabay

Most people in the city can claim exhaustion when it comes to 2020. Frontline workers are at the front of the line with complaints. CityMD employees are no different.

This week, officials at the chain of free clinics announced they would be shortening their hours of business by 90 minutes to help overwhelmed employees who have gone beyond the call of duty. The organization said, in a public statement, that they would only care for those who were in line before closing time except in extreme cases.

“Our goal is to treat every person who needs care. Period. But unfortunately, we can’t stay open past our normal hours on a daily basis,” read CityMD’s statement. “Our site staff and doctors have been seeing patients well beyond normal closing time for months now and we’ve reached the point where they are sacrificing their own safety and health. We certainly don’t want that and we know our wonderful patients don’t want that either. We’ve worked hard to increase our staffing levels, hiring and training more than 1,000 new team members over the past several months, but we continue to be challenged to serve the current patient volumes with the levels of service that you deserve and expect from us.

There’s been a surge in COVID-19 cases as the city has entered the cold weather months. Over the past several days the city has come close to hitting its 3% positivity testing rate. The daily average of new COVID-19 cases in the city have gone up every day the past week-plus when it started, initially, at 1,000 in one day. Some of the current hot spots include Corona, Elmhurst and Richmond Hill in Queens, Borough Park in Brooklyn, Concourse/Highbridge and Morris Heights/Mount Hope/University Heights in the Bronx and almost the entire borough of Staten Island.

Attempts to contact the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office for comment were unsuccessful.

When asked for comment, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office directed the AmNews to comments he made over the weekend alongside state COVID-19 Task Force member Gareth Rhodes.

“There is no state in the nation that is doing more testing per capita than this state, per capita, so even adjusting for population we have more testing sites and we are doing more testing than any other state,” said Cuomo to reporters. “So it just doesn’t figure, right? How can you have more testing sites and be doing more testing than any other state and have a problem, unless the problem exists in every state and is worse in every other state.”

Mayor’s de Blasio’s biggest controversy involves the possible closing of schools and the push back to remote learning. If the city’s daily threshold of COVID-19 cases clocks in at 3% or more, he’ll close schools. As long as it stays under that number, de Blasio’s and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s blended learning plan will continue. But, according to the city’s health department, the five boroughs have come dangerously close to that threshold with a daily average of 2.7% positivity tests the past week.

As of press time, the positivity for the last day recorded was 3.2 in New York City. But according to state COVID Task Force member Rhodes, the city won’t be starving for more testing sites. They’ll be enough places for the city’s residents to get tested.

“So, we now have over 1,200 testing sites statewide where someone can go on our website and get a testing appointment,” Rhodes said. “Over 425 of those are in New York City, so if people––where there might be delays at certain sites, there are other sites that are operated without delays, and that have capacity. We have our state-run sites in New York City, those still have capacity and there’s plenty of reports from others––these 425 sites that have open appointments on daily basis.”

Dr. Daniel Laroche is the president of Advanced Eyecare of New York in Harlem and a glaucoma specialist. She told the AmNews that people should remember that COVID-19 can affect their vision as well. She said that the city and the state have to make sure all New Yorkers have access to COVID-19, especially in the winter.

“If CityMD cannot handle the latest increase in COVID-19  needs in the community, other  private institutions must also step up to fill in any gaps,” said Laroche. ”If private facilities are overrun then the city should further expand testing with emergency city, state and federal funds particularly to communities that are most vulnerable such as Harlem, Southeast Queens, Central Brooklyn and the South Bronx. The city should also refer COVID-19  positive patients to city supported COVID-19  facilities to isolate and quarantine them if patients are not able to self-quarantine. This will help reduce the spread.

“We have witnessed the federal government spend trillions of dollars for COVID-19  before so the government cannot say that there is not enough money,” Laroche continued.

The state health department sent a statement to the AmNews directing New Yorkers to where the COVID testing action is and why it’s necessary to get tested.

“Testing is a critical part of keeping you and your family safe,” the statement read. “That’s why the city has set up more than 200 testing sites across our city to make it as fast and accessible as possible to get tested citywide, adding more testing sites, mobile trucks, and self-swab sites citywide.

“New Yorkers who want to find a nearby testing site can text ‘COVID TEST’ to 855-48, call the COVID hotline at 212-COVID19, or go to the COVID-19 Test Site Finder at: nyc.gov/COVIDtest,” the health department’s statement concluded.