“When Sam Bellamy tested positive for Covid on Dec. 16, he immediately called the city’s hotline for a free hotel room,” Mary Steffenhagen wrote over at City Limits. “He lives in Brooklyn with two roommates, one of whom was unable to get the booster due to health concerns, so he knew isolating at home would be tricky. Read our coverage of New York City’s Coronavirus crisis. Bellamy waited on hold for an hour and a half to register, only to realize he would need more time to gather his work effects before being picked up by the free transport service the city offers as part of its ovid-19 Isolation Hotel Program. So he asked to be picked up the next day. But when he called back that Friday night, he was told he hadn’t even been put in the system. So he had to get registered anew and begin the wait again. He started doing sponge baths in his shared bathroom instead of showering without a mask, expecting to be into a hotel room soon enough. A friend of his who used the program in November told him she’d been picked up in mere hours. He called the hotline daily, waiting on hold for up to two hours each time. But it wasn’t until the night of Dec. 19 -— three days after his diagnosis and his initial attempt to secure an isolation space -— that Sam was given a room in the LaGuardia Plaza Hotel in Queens. ‘First thing I did when I got here was take a shower!’ he said. As the omicron variant overwhelms New York City, residents with roommates and family they need to isolate from are calling the city’s free hotel room program, called Take Care, for a safe place to recuperate. Launched at the start of the pandemic, the service provides participants with three meals a day, round-trip transportation, medication delivery and more -— all free of charge. But as local politicians and media have continued touting the program’s benefits, spiking Covid-19 cases appear to be straining its efficiency. Those who’ve tried to use the service in recent weeks (including this reporter) say there haven’t been enough hotel rooms to meet the demand. Residents are reporting long delays in obtaining an isolation room, of three days or more, even as the CDC recently cut its recommended isolation time down to five days.” Mary Steffenhagen, “Long Waits for NYC’s COVID-19 Isolation Hotel Rooms, As Omicron Cases Spike,” City Limits.
Jeanne Pinder is the founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts. She worked at The New York Times for almost 25 years as a reporter, editor and human resources executive, then volunteered for a buyout and founded ClearHealthCosts.
She was previously a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at the Columbia University School of Journalism. ClearHealthCosts has won grants from the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York; the International Women’s Media Foundation; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with KQED public radio in San Francisco and KPCC in Los Angeles; the Lenfest Foundation in Philadelphia for a partnership with The Philadelphia Inquirer; and the New York State Health Foundation for a partnership with WNYC public radio/Gothamist in New York; and other honors.
Her TED talk about fixing health costs has surpassed 2 million views.