Update: On April 16 2020, 89 international photographers were added to Pictures for Elmhurst’s print sale; the fundraiser now features 185 prints, including new additions from Rineke Dijkstra, Sara VanDerBeek, Alec Soth, Christopher Anderson, Robbie Lawrence, Jack Davison, Jamie Hawkesworth, and Richard Mosse.
Following in the footsteps of 100 photographs for Bergamo — a fundraiser that raised €727,600 in 10 days for the intensive care unit of the Pope John XXIII Hospital in Bergamo, Samantha Casolari conceived of Pictures for Elmhurst to raise money for Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, New York.
The print sale, which runs until 20 April 2020, is selling prints by almost 100 New York-based photographers, including Richard Renaldi, Sara Cwynar, Daniel Shea, Justine Kurland, and Tyler Mitchell, for $150. “The project [in Bergamo] was extremely successful, so I wanted to repeat it here for Elmhurst Hospital Center, which is at the centre of the pandemic in New York City and in dire need of support,” explained Casolari, who organised the initiative alongside fellow New-Yorkers Jody Rogac, Vittoria Cerciello, Stefan Dufgran, Matthew Booth, and Eliona Cela.
Elmhurst Hospital Center, which is currently almost entirely dedicated to treating patients suffering from COVID-19, is one of the oldest hospitals in New York City — opening in 1932 and relocating to its current location in Queens in 1957.
The hospital — which is typically busy, serving the borough’s significant immigrant and low-income residents — is at the centre of the crisis, which has hit New York state, and Queens specifically, hard. According to a tracker from John Hopkins University, New York City currently has the fifth-highest death toll worldwide at almost 8000 people. There were 110,465 confirmed cases as of 15 April 2020 — almost 20 per cent of the number of confirmed cases across the US.
The number of confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in Queens accounts for over 33 per cent of those in New York City’s five boroughs, placing a huge strain on an already overwhelmed facility, which was often running at 80 per cent capacity before the pandemic.
During the initial surge, Elmhurst added 82 ICU beds bringing the total to 111, and, throughout April, the centre will be adding an additional 69 ICU beds and 230 medical ones. Blue and white tents, and metal guard rails, have been erected outside the building to cope with the daily flood of patients, often numbering in the hundreds.
The funds raised by Pictures for Elmhurst will be used to purchase life-saving equipment for the hospital, which is “struggling to keep up with the demand for both medical personnel and PPE,” according to a statement from the team.
“The Pictures for Elmhurst project adds desperately-needed supplies for those on the front lines fighting this virus,” it continues. “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.”
Pictures for Elmhurst runs until 20 April 2020.