Chief Medical Officer David Batinelli: 'Take The Mask Off And It Will Spread'

BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations around the country, hospitals in New York, once the epicenter of the pandemic, are gearing up for an influx.

CBS2’s Jenna DeAngelis got a tour of how Northwell Health is preparing outside its hospital walls.

Wesley Alston’s office is the Northwell Health integrated distribution center.

“Think about everything — you walk into your doctors office, from urgent care to hospitals — that you ever see from the moment you step in, its all sent from here,” Alston said.

The warehouse is where the team picks, packs and ships disposable medical items to its 23 hospitals.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

“The work we do here is very crucial,” said Alston, a distribution associate.

He felt that even more when his 95-year-old grandmother was hospitalized with COVID in April at LIJ Medical Center.

“When you know family members and friends have it and seeing the items we use every day being used to help them, it definitely hits home,” Alston said.

Fortunately, his grandmother made it home.

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He continued to work. It was busier than ever at the 24/7 operation.

“When you realize you’re helping make a difference — it makes you want to come to work more and more,” Alston said.

The warehouse is huge — 85,000 square feet — and on its shelves are 2,800 different unique items.

“Without this building here and this operation, you’re relying on manufacturers to be able to get that product to you when you need it, and that’s not always the case,” said Paul Spodek, the assistant vice president of supply chain, distribution and logistics.

Pre-pandemic, the warehouse carried about 20 days worth of supplies.

Spodek says the warehouse never ran out of a product, but peak pandemic, PPE was flying off shelves. Now, the state requires every hospital have a three month stockpile.

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“We’re working to have that 90-120 days to go above and beyond that mandate,” Spodek said.

From the warehouse to the hospitals, Chief Medical Officer David Battinelli says lessons learned are being applied — from more testing, to how to better treat COVID patients, and load balancing.

“Which is move patients around to be housed in hospitals that have capacity, so places that are overwhelmed at the front door of emergency rooms don’t have too many patients,” Battinelli said.

“What is it looking like right now in terms of hospitalizations?” DeAngelis asked.

“Back in late August, early September, we only had 60 patients total across all of our hospitals. We’re already up to 600,” Battinelli said.

And counting. With an expected holiday spike, his message is simple.

“Take the mask off and it will spread,” he said.

Keeping the mask on means keeping supplies on shelves and, most importantly, you home, healthy for the holidays.

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