Shuttered after Sandy, NYC hospital partly reopens (Update)

by Eileen Aj Connelly

(AP)—The evacuation of some 320 patients during the catastrophic October storm known as Sandy was just the beginning for NYU Langone Medical Center.

After the rain stopped and the waters receded, the 700-bed hospital was a shattered mess: the emergency room had flooded, expensive diagnostic equipment was destroyed by the influx of brackish water and research projects were ruined when power was lost. The damage totaled an estimated $1 billion.

Unable to treat patients, doctors scrambled to get credentials at nearby facilities so they could provide care. Other hospitals made operating rooms available for NYU surgeons at night and on weekends. Nurses, medical students and other staffers were deployed elsewhere to help care for the displaced and continue their studies.

As the operating rooms, intensive care units and other services reopened Thursday—59 days after the storm—staff members' faces wore visible signs of relief.

"We're home," said Chief of Surgery Dr. Stephen Hofstetter, the surgical scrubs and cap he wore to the reopening ceremony emphasizing the real significance of the day.

About 55 surgeries were scheduled for the first day back in business—a little more than a third of the 150 cases typically handled each day. Surgery department chair Dr. Lee Pachter said they were starting slow, in part because it is a holiday week that usually has a lighter schedule.

"We'll be running up rather quickly," he said. He estimated that 98 percent of patients stayed with their NYU doctors despite the disruption.

While staff members recalled the harrowing evacuation—one story involved a 400-pound patient being carried by firefighters down 15 flights of stairs—hospital administrators and elected officials gathered to celebrate the extraordinary efforts involved in getting the hospital back in business so quickly.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, who helped secure nearly $150 million in federal aid to repair the facility, called the hospital's quick recovery "a metaphor for all of New York and New Jersey after Sandy." Schumer also helped usher through the Senate a $60.4 billion aid package for the region that includes more for the hospital to cover repairs and mitigation aimed at avoiding repeated problems in the future.

Kenneth Langone, chairman of the hospital's board and a patient himself during the storm, called it "one more time a miracle happened in New York City."

About 75 percent of the hospital's services are up and running, and signs of construction and restoration are still visible. The emergency room remains shuttered. The hospital was at the start of a major emergency department expansion before the storm and will add storm-protection measures as part of the work. In the meantime, NYU hopes to open an urgent care center within a few weeks and to start accepting ambulances and trauma cases soon after that.

Maternity, pediatrics and several other services are due restart Jan. 14.

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New York doctors protest post-Sandy troubles

Nov 16, 2012

A group of doctors and nurses protested outside New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's office Friday to ask for more help in rebuilding the city's healthcare system in the wake of superstorm Sandy.

Power out at NYC hospital; 200 patients evacuate

Oct 30, 2012

(AP)—A backup generator failed at a New York City hospital Monday night, forcing it to move out more than 200 patients, including 20 babies from the neonatal intensive care unit.

Recommended for you

New approach to particle therapy dosimetry

Dec 19, 2014

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in collaboration with EMRP partners, are working towards a universal approach to particle beam therapy dosimetry.

Supplement maker admits lying about ingredients

Dec 17, 2014

Federal prosecutors say the owner and president of a dietary supplement company has admitted his role in the sale of diluted and adulterated dietary ingredients and supplements sold by his company.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.