An Irishman is leading New York’s fight against coronavirus
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An Irishman is leading New York’s fight against coronavirus

AN IRISHMAN is playing a crucial role in helping New York fight back against Covid-19. 

Michael Dowling, originally from Knockaderry in Co Limerick, is the chief executive of Northwell Health, one of the biggest health companies operating in New York state. 

Northwell Health operates 23 hospitals across the region as well as nearly 800 outpatient facilities. 

With New York facing an ever-increasing number of Covid-19 cases, governor Andrew Cuomo decided to contact Dowling to see if he could help co-ordinate the state’s hopsital response to the virus. 

The Irish native didn’t hesitate to offer his services, telling Cuomo “I’ll help in any way I possibly can.” 

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Speaking to RTÉ, Dowling has explained how several innovations have helped ease the pressure on New York’s health service. 

Innovations like the sharing of ventilators by patients and the conversion of bypass machines into ventilators. 

“In a crisis like this people have become very innovative,” he explained. 

He also confirmed they were "scouring every place we can think of” to get more ventilators while his army of some 73,000 staff are working longer hours, rotating shifts and being redeployed wherever possible to take on frontline roles. 

And while the crisis continues apace in the US, with America overtaking China and Italy as having the most cases of Covid-19 in the world, Dowling believes "overall, hospitals in New York are doing well, and managing the situation in a good way". 

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Despite the Irish healthcare provider’s positive outlook, he warned that New York is in the midst of a surge in cases. 

"I think this week and next week the number of cases will continue to escalate,” he said. 

“People will get quite sick, including quite a number of healthcare staff". 

He was also keen to stress the need for patience when it comes to lifting any lockdown, warning that doing so too quickly could lead to a recurrence. 

“I believe in keeping the current policies in place until it is clear there is a flattening of the curve, then we can get back to business,” he explained to RTÉ. 

He also admitted that, whatever happens, the experience of coronavirus “will change us”. 

"It will change how we live, how we work, it will change how we relate,” he said. 

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“This will make us realise how much we take for granted. 

“Going through this experience will make us realise we are very fortunate. How fortunate we are under normal circumstances.”