With the surge in COVID-19 cases now considered manageable, Samaritan’s Purse’s Central Park field hospital unit has stopped receiving new patients and will pack up and leave in approximately two weeks.
The Christian ministry and its partner hospital, Mount Sinai Health System, released a joint statement Saturday saying the partnership had resulted in 315 coronavirus patients receiving “high-quality medical care” within the field hospital tents.
“We are grateful for this opportunity to work together to save lives and reduce suffering," the statement said, according to New York City Public Radio. “Now that the surge in COVID hospital admissions is reaching manageable levels, we will stop admitting new patients to the Central Park field hospital as of [Monday] May 4."
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson previously had said Samaritan’s Purse wasn’t welcome in the city due to the organization’s biblical views on sexuality. “Hate has no place in our beautiful city,” he tweeted last week. But Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse, said on Monday his organization treated “everybody the same.” The organization is privately funded.
Samaritan's Purse requires its volunteers to agree to a written affirmation “that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) May 1, 2020
Hate has no place in our beautiful city. 6/6
The joint statement from the hospital and Samaritan’s Purse said it “will take approximately two weeks to treat these last patients and subsequently decontaminate and remove the tents” from Central Park.
“While this crisis is far from over, this marks a significant turning point in the coronavirus outbreak in New York that gives us assurance that we are returning towards normalcy," the statement said.
Johnson, in a series of tweets last week, said Samaritan’s Purse “came at a time when our city couldn't in good conscience turn away any offer of help.” But that “time has passed.”
“Their continued presence here is an affront to our values of inclusion, and is painful for all New Yorkers who care deeply about the LGBTQ community,” he tweeted. He pointed to Samaritan’s Purse’s Statement of Faith, which says, in part, “marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”
“As a city that values diversity and compassion for all, we can't continue allowing a group with their track record to remain here when we're past the point they're needed,” Johnson wrote.
My statement on Samaritan's Purse:— NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson (@NYCSpeakerCoJo) May 1, 2020
It is time for Samaritan's Purse to leave NYC. This group, led by the notoriously bigoted, hate-spewing Franklin Graham, came at a time when our city couldn't in good conscience turn away any offer of help. That time has passed. 1/
Graham on Monday said Samaritan’s Purse had a great relationship with Mt. Sinai. Graham made the comments on the Glenn Beck radio program in part to respond to Johnson and other critics.
“Mt. Sinai did not waver in their support for us one bit,” Graham said. “They’ve just been a great group, a great partner.”
Asked by Beck if Samaritan’s Purse ever “rejected someone or treated them differently in the hospital because they don't agree with you,” Graham said, “Of course not.”
“Jesus didn’t come to condemn the world. He came to save the world. … We want to show the same love and compassion He would. … We love everyone. It has nothing to do with what they believe.
“... We treat everybody the same,” Graham said.
The field hospital will be packed up and deployed again “if there’s another need somewhere else,” Graham said.
“We’re committed to caring for people in Jesus’ name,” Graham said.
Photo courtesy: Samaritan's Purse Facebook Page
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.