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Hundreds of hospitals brace for Hurricane Sandy

Facilities discharge, transfer non-acute patients

Topics: Strategy

October 29, 2012

  • Because of inclement weather tied to Hurricane Sandy, the Advisory Board's office in Washington, D.C., is closed on Monday, October 29. Other Advisory Board offices are following normal work hours.

This story was last updated at 9:50 a.m. ET

Hospitals along the East Coast scrambled to prepare for a potential disaster, with forecasters warning that winds could reach 85 mph and all-but-certain flooding in some cities.

According to the National Weather Service, the Category 1 storm is expected to make landfall in New Jersey Monday evening and bring with it possible floods, downed trees and power outages. Hospitals prepared over the weekend by bringing in backup generators, asking employees to work extra hours, and discharging patients to free up beds.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered hospitals Sunday to increase staff, move patients to higher floors, and prepare for power outages. Bloomberg ordered New York Downtown Hospital to evacuate as the facility does not have back-up power capabilities.

“Teams from the city's health department are at these facilities making sure their emergency generators are working and that they have back-up fuel supplies,” Bloomberg said at press conference Sunday.

North Shore-LIJ Health System—which manages 16 hospitals in New York City and nearby Long Island—announced Sunday it would not evacuate any of its hospitals, but has cancelled elective procedures and patient appointments for Monday and Tuesday.

Outside of Manhattan, the health system’s low-lying Staten Island University Hospital began moving high-risk patients to other facilities on Thursday and discharging non-acute patients in preparation of a possible evacuation. The hospital lies in an evacuation zone and was evacuated during last year’s Hurricane Irene.

The hospital will remain open throughout the storm, “but officials are asking the public not to bring patients who are dependent on ventilators to the hospitals,” according to health system spokesperson Terry Lynam.

Other northeastern health care providers made Hurricane Sandy preparations, such as:

  • Crozer Keystone Health System—which operates five Philadelphia area hospitals—has prepared overnight accommodations for employees working long shifts, and has discharged non-acute patients.
  • Long Beach Medical Center in New York will be evacuated, as ordered by Nassau County officials. The hospital offered dialysis treatments over the weekend and began transferring patients to other facilities and nursing homes; Nassau University Medical Center will receive 57 of Long Beach’s patients and 35 of its nursing home residents.
  • Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Del., shut down its Tunnell Cancer Center, imaging center, home health operations, and rescheduled elective surgeries and cardiac catheterizations.
  • Raritan Bay Medical Center in Perth Amboy, N.J. has stockpiled medications and is prepared for power outages.
  • Boston's Emergency Medical Services is providing extra coverage and proactively coordinating with local hospitals (Kutscher/Evans, Modern Healthcare, 10/28 [subscription required]; Anese, Staten Island Advance, 10/28; WickedLocal.com, 10/27; Thorbourne, The Jersey Journal, 10/28; CBS News, 10/29).

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