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Entries in Evacuation (6)

Thursday
Feb282013

Infant Evacuated from Hospital during Hurricane Sandy Returns for Surgery

Jeremy Donovan(NEW YORK) -- A Long Island infant was back at NYU Langone Medical Center last week for his second heart surgery, prompting the usual jitters from his parents. But they knew it would be nothing like his first heart surgery.

William "Will" Donovan was just three weeks old when Superstorm Sandy prompted an emergency evacuation of the hospital just days after he started breathing on his own for the first time.

When Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 31, Will was one of six patients in the Congenital Cardiovascular Care Unit on the 15th floor of the hospital, said Dr. Achiau Ludomirsky, who directs pediatric cardiology at the hospital.

Will was born with a congenital heart defect: His left ventricle didn't work, Donovan said. He needed surgery when he was three days old to compensate for the fact that his heart only had one functioning pump instead of two.

The Donovans knew Sandy was coming, but the hospital was confident of its backup electricity generators and told families to either head home early or plan on staying through the storm. They went home to their temporary apartment 10 blocks away. They live in Long Island and temporarily moved to Manhattan just before Will was born because they knew he'd need surgery right away.

Lori Touchette, the head nurse on Will's unit, was having a semi-normal day at the Congenital Cardiovascular Care Unit. As the storm began outside, she and her colleagues made sure things were plugged in properly and that everyone had flashlights and charts printed on paper -- just in case.

Then, the power went out. Although the hospital had backup generators, they were located in the basement, which flooded. The backup generators failed.

Touchette and her colleagues needed to carefully take the babies in the hospital down the dark and crowded corridors, juggling lots of IV lines and wires the whole way.

Meanwhile, Donovan had braved both the weather and an unhelpful security guard to get to the hospital, where he happened upon Touchette taking Will downstairs. They then rode in an ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital together. Donovan still marvels at how she worked more than 30 hours that night.

Will was back at NYU Langone last week for his second surgery, prompting hugs from the staff as they marveled at how big he's grown over the last few months. "It was a lot of fun to reunite with these people we like and care about so much," Donovan said.

Will recovered four days after his operation and returned home to Long Island. He isn't expected to need another surgery until he's about 2 years old. Hopefully, the weather will be nicer.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

New York City's Bellevue Hospital Forced to Evacuate Patients After Sandy

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Bellevue Hospital Center has evacuated hundreds of patients to other hospitals, according to city officials, making it the latest hospital in the city forced to transfer patients after damage from Superstorm Sandy.

The evacuations from Bellevue -- perhaps the best known of the 11 hospitals that make up New York City's public hospital system -- followed others from NYU Langone Medical Center on Monday and Coney Island Hospital on Tuesday.

When Sandy hit the New York area Monday night, Bellevue, located on 1st Avenue and 27th Street in flood-stricken Lower Manhattan, almost lost its generators. At least one got repaired just in time to stave off an evacuation, but it's been difficult to keep the hospital going.

Bellevue and its remaining patients have been struggling along in the aftermath of Sandy with failing power, partially lighted halls and no computers, making it difficult to locate patients within the facility, hospital staff told ABC News Wednesday.

Similar conditions existed at Metropolitan Hospital, another city hospital that was running on backup generator power. That hospital is located on 1st Avenue and East 97th Street in Manhattan.

For two days, the Bellevue staff and the city have been poised for an eventual evacuation, and that time now seems to have come, along with another quest for beds.

"We learned this morning that Bellevue will now have to evacuate because of damage that it has sustained," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters. "They didn't think the damage was that bad, and we did have a generator going, and the National Guard helped carry fuel up to the roof, because that's where the fuel tank was and they were running out."

"But the bottom line is that when they got into the basement they realized there was more damage," Bloomberg added. "It's going to affect something like 500 patients. They had already discharged patients that didn't require critical care. We are in the process of finding beds to move these patients to now and I want to thank the greater New York hospital association for their help in the process of relocating patients."

The Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan's East Harlem neighborhood further uptown told ABC News it would be accepting some of Bellevue's patients. The patients likely will be received at the Mount Sinai's emergency room.

Earlier, when Mount Sinai could no longer reach anyone at Bellevue, it sent a medical team of eight to Bellevue, a Mount Sinai spokesman told ABC News. When the group arrived, two cardiac physicians told the Mount Sinai team they had two very serious patients that needed help. Both of those patients were to be moved to Mount Sinai, along with other patients.

On Wednesday, Bellevue nurses could be seen walking up and down stairs with food trays and medicine. Some had to hike to the 17th floor, where some patients have "serious conditions."

Up and down the stairs, the evacuation of patients was under way. The highest floor patients had to be carried from was the 18th floor, New York City Health and Hospital Corporation President Alan Aviles told reporters Wednesday evening.

The National Guard was instrumental in carrying fuel up to the hospital's rooftop generator and patients down the stairs, Aviles said.

Police were stationed throughout Bellevue, and were limiting visitors' access to the main lobby entrance unless they were there to see family members.

On Monday night, patients were evacuated from New York University Langone Medical Center. A stream of ambulances evacuated patients from the hospital after backup generators failed following a power outage, city officials said.

NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman Christopher Rucas told ABC News Tuesday that more than 300 patients had been safely moved out of the hospital and transferred to surrounding institutions. Dozens of these were critical care patients, city officials said.

On Tuesday, Coney Island Hospital, at the tip of Brooklyn, was evacuated. Although one of its generators was still puttering along, another had long been underwater, and officials were reluctant to leave patients in such precarious conditions.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

New York's Bellevue Hospital Set to Evacuate After Sandy

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- New York City's Bellevue Hospital and its remaining 700 patients have struggled along in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, with failing power, partially lighted halls and no computers, making it difficult to locate patients within the facility, hospital staff told ABC News on Wednesday.

When Sandy hit the New York area Monday night, Bellevue almost lost its generators.  At least one got repaired just in time to stave off an evacuation, but it's been a struggle to keep the hospital going.  Now, an evacuation is expected, making Bellevue the second of the city's public hospitals to be taken off line because of precarious and failing conditions that could endanger patient health.

"It's Katrina-esque in there," one nurse told ABC News.

Bellevue is perhaps the best known of the 11 hospitals that make up New York City's public hospital system.  On Tuesday, another of those hospitals, Coney Island Hospital, at the tip of Brooklyn, was evacuated.  Although one of its generators was still puttering along, another had long been underwater, and officials were reluctant to leave patients in such precarious conditions.

Lights out, computers down and long walks up and down dark stairwells and hallways to treat patients -- these are the conditions doctors, nurses, aides and staff face at Bellevue, as well as at Metropolitan Hospital, another city hospital that is running on backup generator power.

For two days, the Bellevue staff and the city have been poised for an eventual full evacuation, and that time now seems to have come, along with another quest for beds.

A spokesman at Mount Sinai Medical Center told ABC News that when it could no longer reach anyone at Bellevue, it sent a medical team of eight to Bellevue.  When the group arrived, two cardiac physicians told the Mount Sinai team they had two very serious patients that needed help.

Both of these patients will be moved to Mount Sinai, which is preparing for more patients.

On Wednesday, Bellevue nurses could be seen walking up and down stairs with food trays and medicine.  Some had to hike to the 17th floor, where some patients have "serious conditions."

Up and down the stairs, the evacuation of patients was under way.  But many patients still remain at Bellevue, according to city officials and hospital staff.

Police are stationed throughout Bellevue, and are limiting visitors' access to the main lobby entrance unless they are there to see family members.

The hospital is no longer admitting patients.

New York City's other major hospital evacuation this week happened Monday night at New York University Langone Medical Center.  A stream of ambulances evacuated patients from the hospital after backup generators failed following a power outage, city officials said.

NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman Christopher Rucas told ABC News on Tuesday that more than 300 patients had been safely moved out of the hospital and transferred to surrounding institutions.  Dozens of these were critical care patients, city officials said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Superstorm Sandy Tests Hospital Preparedness

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When superstorm Sandy slammed into New York and New Jersey, it tested the emergency preparedness of hospitals housing some of the region's most vulnerable residents.

Despite all the hospitals' preparations, the storm's high winds and flooding forced a handful of hospitals in New York and New Jersey to evacuate all patients, including those that were in critical condition.

In New York City, NYU Langone Medical Center was forced to evacuate 300 patients after losing power in the historic storm. Among the evacuees were roughly 45 critical care patients and 20 babies, who were carefully carried down dark stairways as the 18-story hospital's elevators stood still.

A long line of ambulances lit up the dark streets surrounding the midtown Manhattan medical center, which spans four blocks along the East River, waiting to transport patients to other facilities amid gusts of wind that topped 70 miles per hour.

News of the "total evacuation" came roughly 12 hours after hospital officials said Monday morning that their emergency preparedness plan had been activated and that there were "no plans to evacuate" at the time.

But Sandy spawned record-breaking tides around lower Manhattan when it made landfall as a post-tropical storm just south of Atlantic City. The flooding prompted power outages from East 39th Street to the lower tip of Manhattan.

NYU Langone Medical Center is located at East 33rd Street on 1st Avenue. The 50-year-old building sits at sea level atop an extended bulkhead in Kip's Bay.

The hospital had at least two backup generators: one in the basement and one on the roof, according to a spokeswoman. But basement flooding caused one generator to fail, and cut off the fuel supply to the other.

"We've had significant challenges at many of our hospitals and health care facilities," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press conference, adding that the city health department is sending people to hospitals and chronic care facilities in the worst flood zones.

Bellevue Hospital also lost power Monday night after its back-up electricity generators failed, but Bellevue was able to get its power back up and running, Bloomberg said.

Bellevue has since completed a "partial evacuation," according to city health department spokeswoman Jean Weinberg.

Coney Island Hospital was also evacuated Tuesday, adding to the list of hospitals already emptied of patients ahead of the storm.

Not far away from New York City, Hackensack University Medical Center started receiving patients from Palisades Medical Center, whose back-up generator also failed, at 6 a.m. Although the Palisades generator was restored, conditions were too unstable to restore uninterrupted power, hospital spokeswoman Nancy Radner said. The National Guard was on hand to help transport patients.

"They were struck a bad blow, and they really needed help," said Dr. Joseph Feldman, chairman of emergency services at Hackensack University Medical Center. "So today we've taken about 23 patients already, and I see another caravan of patients are arriving in our ambulance bay."

Patients arrived with nurses from Palisades and packets of information about their medication and other health needs, he said.

"We have more than enough information to work with," Feldman said.

Hackensack is expecting 10 patients on a ventilator or in critical condition, Radner said.

"To transport even one patient in critical condition, who may be on a ventilator with multiple IV drips running on electric pumps, is a major endeavor often requiring three or more medical professionals," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, Senior Medical Contributor to ABC News.

Although the patients have been successfully relocated, the NYU Langone website, email and phone lines remain down Tuesday.

"It surprises me that NYU could be knocked out by water in the basement," said ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. "You expect that, with a flood, water will go to the basement, so you can't put all your backup power there."

All accredited U.S. hospitals are required to have backup generators in the event of a power failure, according to Ron Dziedzicki chief support service officer for UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

"We have 17 generators and four fuel tanks…The maximum amount of time we've run on generators is 72 hours without a refuel," said Dziedzicki, describing how the generators are raised to prevent flooding from nearby Lake Erie and dispersed across the 35-acre campus.

As Sandy moved inland, Dziedzicki braced for possible power outages. But he said he's prepared, thanks to monthly maintenance checks.

"You never know when weather's going to come," he said, describing the regular drill of switching over to backup power for an hour and keeping diesel fuel tanks topped up. If an outage were to outlast the stored fuel, UH Case Medical Center has a "memorandum of understanding" with a fuel supplier.

But even if the backup generators are working properly, the switch over can cause a 10-second lapse in power to lifesaving equipment like ventilators and bypass machines, according to Dziedzicki. At UH Case Medical Center, they have it down to five seconds, he added.

It's unclear whether NYU had additional generators and fuel storage tanks that were unable to meet the hospital's energy needs, which vary with the number of patients and the type of care they need. The hospital discharged roughly 600 patients Friday to "reduce [the] patient load," according to a spokeswoman. But Monday night's emergency evacuation has raised questions about the hospital's emergency planning.

"You never want to be in a situation like NYU faced last night where you have to evacuate during a storm," Besser said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug312011

Hurricane Caregiving: What's Best for Frail, Elderly?

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Hurricane Irene threatened the East Coast this past weekend, many sick, elderly residents were left debating whether to evacuate from their homes or ride out the storm.  Staying put could have put them in direct danger and hitting the road could result in added stress.

So where's the best place for frail patients to go during natural disasters such as Irene?

The American Red Cross says some fare better in shelters, which evaluate their medical needs and have nurses and emergency medical technicians available to address urgent issues.

However, going to a shelter "is always going to be the last thing you want to do," said Jim Judge, executive director of Lake-Sumter EMS Inc., in Mount Dora, Florida.  "If you're in a good, solid home ...you're going to be far better off...as long as you're not in a flood-prone area."

Judge, a member of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, advises families worried about an elderly parent or grandparent to ask local emergency management offices if they have plans to shelter "the elderly, the frail, individuals that might have medical conditions such as oxygen dependence."  Aides or caregivers can accompany them during shelter stays, he said.

Caregivers and families should make sure to ready emergency kits well in advance of disasters.  These can be assembled in a duffle bag, backpack or suitcase -- preferably on wheels, which are easier to maneuver -- and stored under the bed, so they can be rolled out for use at home, or taken to a shelter during an evacuation.

Although disaster preparation focuses on food, water, and medications, "the biggest problem we run into is oxygen for oxygen-dependent patients," Judge said.  Because power failures cut off the flow of life-saving oxygen through electric-powered devices, patients may want to consider portable machines that can be plugged into a car's DC adapter and run off the car battery, he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
May232011

Joplin, Missouri: Hospital Deemed Unsafe After Tornado, All Patients Evacuated

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision(JOPLIN, Mo.) -- The Joplin, Missouri, tornado caused such severe damage to St. John's Regional Medical Center that all patients had to be evacuated and sent to other hospitals in the region. Hospital officials say 183 patients were evacuated. At least five others died. An unidentified visitor was also killed.

The winds were so powerful that items from the hospital, like medications and medical records, were found in neighboring counties.

Cora Scott, a spokeswoman for the hospital, said officials decided the hospital was unsafe after the tornado barreled through. Many of the patients, she said, were taken to St. John's Hospital in Springfield, Mo., about 75 miles away. Both hospitals are part of a multi-state health system.

Many of those injured in Joplin were taken to a field hospital set up in the city's Memorial Hall.

Medical personnel had to decide on the best places to send hospital patients after the tornado hit. They were in the hospital for all sorts of different conditions before the storm struck.

Hospital staff loaded patients on pickup trucks and did whatever they could to get them to safety. In just 90 minutes, the hospital was evacuated.

Right now, those same hospital personnel are reporting to the field hospital for work, Scott said.

Scott also said there are plenty of medical supplies on hand in Springfield, and the entire health system is working together to make sure all the hospitals get what they need quickly.

Sheila Harrington was in the hospital when the storm hit.

"There was no light. There were little flashlights," she said. "We just heard [people] screaming, looking for loved ones."

Rod Pace was hanging on to a door in another part of the hospital, trying to keep it closed.

"It felt like that building was breathing," he said. "We moved in and out with the door."

Pace said it was a tragedy to lose the hospital.

"The hospital's been in the community a long time," he said. "It's meant a lot to the community."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio