NY hospital staff put protective gear in an outdoor trash can after handling bodies

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Staff at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in New York were seen throwing their robes and caps and other protective clothing into a sidewalk bin Thursday after removing and disposing of bodies from the hospital loaded into a refrigerated truck.

Health care worker removes and discards personal protective equipment (PPE) in a trash can after rolling the bodies of deceased people outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the coronavirus disease (COVID) epidemic -19) in the Brooklyn neighborhood of New York, Brooklyn New York, United States, April 2, 2020. REUTERS / Brendan Mcdermid TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

The hospital treats patients with the new highly infectious virus. Hospital workers generally wear protective equipment when handling patients with respiratory illnesses. Reuters could not confirm that the bodies were those of the victims of the coronavirus.

The hospital is in Brooklyn. The epidemic has killed nearly 1,400 New York residents.

Hospital administrators could not be reached for comment after several emails and calls to the public affairs office and the main phone line. Operator Beatrice Pereira said, “They said there was no one available right now, that everyone here is busy saving lives. “

A Reuters photographer saw four workers wearing protective gowns, caps, face masks and glasses rolling hospital beds with deceased patients covered in white sheets outside the building.

After placing the bodies inside a refrigerated truck, they removed their robes and other protective gear and put them in a nearby outdoor bin and rolled up the beds inside.

A homeless man had gone through the trash an hour earlier, said the Reuters photographer. Reuters could not determine what was in the trash at the time.

A spokesperson for the New York Department of Health said it was unable to comment on what Reuters had seen, but said each hospital should have described procedures for donning and doffing protective gear . The New York State Department of Health did not respond to requests for comment.

Faced with a severe shortage of protective equipment, federal and local health authorities advise healthcare professionals to reuse and clean their disposable masks and gloves when possible, rather than throwing them away after each patient.

According to the World Health Organization guidelines for the treatment of patients with coronavirus, personal protective equipment must be “disposed of in an appropriate waste container after use”.

Brendan McDermid report; Additional reports by Gabriella Borter and Jonathan Allen; Editing by Ross Colvin and Howard Goller

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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