Bellevue Hospital Needs Your Help to Fight COVID-19

Bellevue Hospital Needs Your Help to Fight COVID-19

Benard Dreyer, MD, FAAP, serves as NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue’s Director of Pediatrics. In a video message to Children of Bellevue’s supporters, Dr. Dreyer shares how he and his staff are fighting the COVID-19 pandemic on the front lines and how you can help Bellevue staff save lives. The following is transcript of spoken word, rather than written prose, and has been edited for clarity.

 “Hello, this is Benard Dreyer. I’m a pediatrician here at Bellevue. I’m actually the director of the Bellevue Pediatric service. I’ve been here actually for over 40 years. And, I’m a professor of pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Health and also involved in the Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital.

I’ve had a number of national positions including being president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest organization of pediatricians with over 67,000 members. It’s a great organization that I’m still–although I’m no longer the president–very much involved with as the medical director of all their policies of which there are over 80 a year which I review and edit to make sure they have the right content and messages. I’m also the past president of the Academic Pediatric Association as well as chair of the APA Task Force on Childhood Poverty. And, presently, I am on the Board of the Pediatric Academic Societies which is the organization that runs the largest annual scientific meeting for Pediatrics.

I’ve been very much involved in publishing on the plight of immigrants, the plight of poor children with many, many editorials; as editor of supplements for major medical journals; and as an invited speaker across the country. Although, of course, at this moment of COVID, my wings are clipped, and a number of national and international engagements which I was supposed to be going on are on hold.

So, let’s get to Bellevue. I wanted to update you on what’s going on at Bellevue as of April 1st when I am recording this as my staff and I fight on the front lines of the COVID-19 global epidemic as it’s hitting New York City.

Luckily, children are, in general, not severely hurt by COVID. We have had several children who have been intubated in the ICU [Intensive Care Unit], and one 17-year-old girl who literally almost died but seemed to have been rescued by one of the new experimental drugs that are being used. We’ve had a number of infants who have tested positive but have not been very, very sick.

However, COVID has hit the adult population that comes to Bellevue very, very broadly with 30 to 40 people in the ICU on any day, eight deaths so far, and over 100 sick adult patients elsewhere on the inpatient service. We in pediatrics have been deployed to help on the adult services. In fact, I just got off a conference call where we were planning how we are going to deploy pediatricians to be on the adult services to help the internal medicine folks take care of those adult patients.

I must reflect that this is not the peak. The peak is supposed to be in two or three weeks, so I shudder to think of how busy we are going to be at that time.

For children, Bellevue is the regional center for all of the 11 NYC Health + Hospitals public hospitals. And so, we get all of the sickest children from all the pediatric services and emergency rooms at all of those hospitals sent to us. We also run the transport service which transports the sickest children here for our Intensive Care Unit, our PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit), and, of course, we also have a NICU, a regional perinatal center, but I’d like to focus a little on the PICU today.

Our PICU, which is staffed by amazing pediatric intensivists and heroic nurses, nevertheless is in a very inadequate physical setting. We are desperately looking to expand it to 10 to 12 beds, to a modern facility which can really help us provide the best care to these critically ill children from all over New York City that are being sent to us.

For example, right now several of the other hospitals have closed their pediatric services because of COVID, and all of those patients are coming to us. This is probably going to be increasing further and further. We just don’t have the adequate space presently, and we were in the process of working with Bellevue Hospital to try to plan to expand this space, but now COVID has thrown this into a crisis situation since we are now the one center of all the H+H hospitals that can take care of the very, very complex and critically ill children.

We need $350,000 to expand our PICU, and that is just one of our needs. We need more beds, and as I said, the sickest babies and children are coming from all the H+H facilities and being transferred here.

You can help fight COVID-19 by doing whatever you can to donate to Children of Bellevue. Children of Bellevue is trying to raise $750,000 to expand the PICU [and to provide support to other essential services]. Bellevue Hospital itself has already the plans to do this. This is an emergency which we could really start working on literally tomorrow if we had the money.

We must do this for the children of New York. We must. We are the essential provider of healthcare to the sickest children in New York, especially those who come from immigrant families, from poor families, and from families with other stressful conditions.

But we can’t do this alone. We need all of New York City, the USA, and the world to be with us.

You can do your part by donating anything that you can to Children of Bellevue, who will be raising the funds to create our new PICU.

Thank you, God bless all of you, and stay safe and well. And, of course, I’d be personally happy to talk to anybody who wants more details about this initiative. Thank you.

Every unrestricted donation, big or small, can help us provide these services, help hospitalized children feel like kids again, and support our healthcare workers on the front line. Please donate what you can today at charity.gofundme.com/fight-covid-19. We need you now more than ever.

For more information, contact:
Sara Saastamoinen, Director of Development, Children of Bellevue, Inc.
212-562-4130 option 5 or sara@childrenofbellevue.org