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Coronavirus US: Makeshift Central Park hospital is dismantled

The makeshift Central Park hospital set up by evangelist Billy Graham’s preacher son Franklin is being dismantled after the site discharged its final coronavirus patients.   

Pictures show the 14 tents being taken down on Monday after they were set up to help the nearby emergency room at Mt Sinai Hospital by Fifth Avenue. The 68-bed respiratory care unit had opened on April 1. 

The East Meadow site had been set up with help from Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. He traveled to the site last week to thank those who worked there, telling them: ‘This hospital has been a beacon of life and a beacon of hope. You’ve been able to touch lives.’

Hospitals in the city had struggled to keep up with the exploding number of critical patients, prompting many to expand to temporary facilities. 

Samaritan’s Purse treated more than 300 coronavirus patients in New York, including 190 at the Central Park site. More than 240 relief specialists served there at various times. 

But the aid did not come without criticism; at one stage Graham said he was being harassed for insisting that his hospital workers are opposed to gay marriage. 

He makes all volunteers agree to a Statement of Faith which includes the line ‘marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female’. 

Pictures show the 14 tents being taken down on Monday after the 68-bed respiratory care unit opened April 1

The Central Park Field Hospital operated by Samaritan's Purse and used to help treat coronavirus patients is dismantled

The Central Park Field Hospital operated by Samaritan’s Purse and used to help treat coronavirus patients is dismantled

Hospitals in the city had struggled to keep up with the exploding number of critical patients, prompting many to expand

Hospitals in the city had struggled to keep up with the exploding number of critical patients, prompting many to expand

Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan's Purse, pictured at his group's field hospital in New York's Central Park. The Christian relief charity has concluded its coronavirus efforts in the city

Rev. Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, pictured at his group’s field hospital in New York’s Central Park. The Christian relief charity has concluded its coronavirus efforts in the city 

New York City remains the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak with more than 178,000 confirmed cases and a confirmed death toll of 14,753, with 5,178 probable deaths. 

But Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday several regions of upstate New York that have shown progress in taming the outbreak are ready to gradually restart economic activity by the end of the week. 

Cuomo last week said regions of the state could phase in reopening if they met seven conditions. COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations need to trend down and there must be enough hospital beds to meet a surge. 

Samaritan’s purse had trucked in four trailers of equipment and gear, including tents, beds, personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators to treat the sickest patients at the end of March. 

The team of healthcare workers from around the US were on hand under the leadership of Elliott Tenpenny, a physician who’s previously tended to Ebola patients in West Africa, Syrian refugees in Iraq and earthquake victims in Ecuador.

‘This is honestly the most improbable place we’ve ever been,’ he had told The New York Post. 

The East Meadow site had been set up with help from Samaritan's Purse, an evangelical Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. He traveled to the site last week to thank those who worked there

The East Meadow site had been set up with help from Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian relief organization headed by Franklin Graham. He traveled to the site last week to thank those who worked there

Samaritan's Purse treated more than 300 coronavirus patients in New York, including 190 at the Central Park site

Samaritan’s Purse treated more than 300 coronavirus patients in New York, including 190 at the Central Park site

Graham had said he was being harassed for insisting his hospital workers are opposed to gay marriage

Graham had said he was being harassed for insisting his hospital workers are opposed to gay marriage

New York City remains the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak with more than 178,000 confirmed cases and a confirmed death toll of 14,753, with 5,178 probable deaths

New York City remains the epicenter of the US coronavirus outbreak with more than 178,000 confirmed cases and a confirmed death toll of 14,753, with 5,178 probable deaths

Rev. Billy Graham, right, and his son Franklin Graham pictured in 2006. Billy Graham died in February 2018

Rev. Billy Graham, right, and his son Franklin Graham pictured in 2006. Billy Graham died in February 2018 

Mr Graham – who has a long history of anti-LGBTQ beliefs – posted in a lengthy Facebook message about how he has been harassed by ‘elected officials and others’ in the state.   

‘While so many have expressed their appreciation and support, sadly some New York officials and a special interest group have expressed concerns or outright opposition to the presence of Samaritan’s Purse and our field hospital in Central Park. 

‘They include: Eight Democratic members of New York’s Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., The New York City Commission on Human Rights, The Reclaim Pride Coalition,’ Graham alleged.   

Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday several regions of upstate New York that have shown progress in taming the outbreak are ready to gradually restart economic activity by the end of the week

Gov Andrew Cuomo said Monday several regions of upstate New York that have shown progress in taming the outbreak are ready to gradually restart economic activity by the end of the week

Cuomo last week said regions of the state could phase in reopening if they met seven conditions. COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations need to trend down and there must be enough hospital beds to meet a surge

Cuomo last week said regions of the state could phase in reopening if they met seven conditions. COVID-19-related deaths and hospitalizations need to trend down and there must be enough hospital beds to meet a surge

Samaritan's purse had trucked in four trailers of equipment and gear, including tents, beds, personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators to treat the sickest patients at the end of March

Samaritan’s purse had trucked in four trailers of equipment and gear, including tents, beds, personal protective equipment and 10 ventilators to treat the sickest patients at the end of March

Last month, while setting up the temporary structure, in an attempt to allay fears because of the charity’s anti-gay stance, Samaritan’s Purse told state lawmakers that they would require those working at the hospital to sign an additional second pledge vowing not to discriminate against patients, according to the New York Times.

Nonetheless, Graham justified his position by saying the group had a right to ‘lawfully hire staff who share our Christian beliefs’ because it is a religious charity. 

A hospital spokesman said: ‘Mount Sinai and Samaritan’s Purse are unified in our mission to provide the same world-class care to anyone and everyone who needs it. No questions asked.’ 

Activist William Talen – best known for his satirical character Reverend Billy – was arrested at the hospital and escorted away by six police officers, one clutching what is believed to be Talen’s rainbow flag.

As he was being escorted away, the 69-year-old shouted: ‘They have no business being in New York City. They are the virus.’ 

Talen allegedly jumped the perimeter of the hospital and planted a flag on the grounds before he was arrested. 

Members of the international Christian humanitarian organization Samaritans's Purse put the finishing touches on a field hospital in New York's Central Park on March 30

Members of the international Christian humanitarian organization Samaritans’s Purse put the finishing touches on a field hospital in New York’s Central Park on March 30

The hospital was built by the Rev. Franklin Graham's Christian group and took in patients from the Mount Sinai Health System

The hospital was built by the Rev. Franklin Graham’s Christian group and took in patients from the Mount Sinai Health System

People in Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.) work to break down an area of The Samaritan's Purse Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease on May 9

People in Personal Protective Equipment (P.P.E.) work to break down an area of The Samaritan’s Purse Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease on May 9 

The makeshift field hospital was constructed in Central Park in just 48 hours to take the pressure off overwhelmed hospitals in the city. 

Samaritan’s Purse COVID Response team lead Dr Elliott Tenpenny had told MSNBC: ‘We’re taking more patients all the time to help the people in New York City.

‘In partnership with Mount Sinai, we’re accepting patients and each day a certain number come through and we receive them throughout the day.

He added: ‘The challenge is those two hospitals [Mount Sinai hospitals in Brooklyn and Queens], those two boroughs, are really the ones that have been hit the hardest early on in this pandemic in New York City.  

‘We’ve been able to serve a great function here by offloading them and allowing them to treat more people.

‘This virus doesn’t just attack older Americans. There is greater risk for severe cases. 

‘This virus doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t care how old you are. It’s attacking people of all ages.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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