Apr 6, 2020 - Health

The rapid push to expand the health care workforce amid the coronavirus crisis

A doctor at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. Photo: B.A. Van Sise/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In response to the overwhelming demand for coronavirus care, the medical workforce has rapidly swelled and morphed to expand its critical care capacity as much as possible.

The state of play: Retired providers have jumped back into the workforce, medical students are preparing to help, and providers whose specialties are on pause are shifting into roles that are drastically different from those they're used to.

Yes, but: This redeployment isn't always voluntary, the New York Times reports.

  • Northwell Health, a New York health network, told its employees that they would either be reassigned to an area in need or furloughed without pay.
  • The redeployment also isn't limited to providers; administrative staff have also been reassigned.
  • And still, New York hospitals are pleading for doctors from other states to provide help.

What they're saying: The care of some coronavirus patients at NewYork-Presbyterian "was being provided by a redeployed cardiac anesthesiologist and a redeployed cardiac surgeon, both close colleagues of mine," wrote Craig Smith, chair of Columbia's Department of Surgery, in his daily update on Saturday.

  • "The cardiac surgeon was the first of my subspecialty partners to be felled by COVID-19. He recovered well and returned to the front lines last week."
  • "Adaptability, resolve, and self-sacrifice is how everyone is fighting back," Smith added.
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