In New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, Elmhurst Hospital in Queens has been barraged with sick patients seeking treatment for the novel coronavirus. On March 25, Mayor Bill de Blasio called the hard-hit hospital “the number one priority of our public hospital system right now”; 95% of its operations are now dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients as it operates as a critical care center. With its beds full and supplies exhausted, the hospital’s healthcare workers are overwhelmed and working around the clock. Enter Pictures for Elmhurst, a photography fundraiser raising money for the hospital and its workers on the frontlines.
The drive offers an opportunity to acquire modestly priced prints by noted fashion and fine art photographers; among the list of 96 contributors is Tyler Mitchell, Farah Al Qasimi, Hans Neumann, and Jody Rojac. The selection of images — varying from landscapes and glossy fashion portraits to conceptual photographs and intimate depictions of familial love — are available through April 20. Proceeds from each unsigned 8.5-by-11-inch print, listed for $150 each plus shipping, will go directly to the hospital.
In a statement, the Elmhurst hospital team said the fundraiser “adds desperately-needed supplies for those on the front lines fighting this virus. It is inspiring to know that such talented photographers and artists ‘have our back’ and are keeping our staff and community in mind during this terribly difficult time.”
The donations will go toward the hospital’s purchase of necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) including ventilators, N95 and surgical masks, face shields, goggles, nurse caps, shoe covers, isolation gowns, hand sanitizer, TYVEK suits, and disposable scrubs.
The strain on PPE and other important resources is one of many concerns expressed by healthcare workers as they navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses report masks being reused for days on end, and increasing worry of bringing the virus home to their families without proper preventative equipment.
“Longtime Elmhurst clinicians state they have never seen anything like it—comparing today’s situation to ‘being at war,’” the hospital said in its statement. “As of early April, patients and difficult outcomes have skyrocketed. This has taken a devastating toll on front-line staff. In addition to the sheer exhaustion of caring for so many critically ill patients, our doctors and nurses fear for their own safety and that of their families. Many are also experiencing moral distress in the face of so many lost — in many instances, with family members never having a chance to say goodbye.”
Inspired by a photography fundraiser benefitting the Pope John XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Italy, Pictures for Elmhurst was organized by Samantha Casolari, Jody Rogac, Vittoria Cerciello, Stefan Dufgran, Matthew Booth, Eliona Cela, and Shayna McClelland. The project also invites direct contributions via its website, all of which will be directed to the hospital. Entertainment and management company Marsé Group will process and deliver these donations to Elmhurst Hospital Center.
All prints will be made and shipped by Brooklyn-based Griffin Editions when it reopens for business, aligning with social distancing mandates. Fifteen dollars from each donation will be deducted from the cost of each print for production and packaging.