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Entries in Hurricane Sandy (13)

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

Tuesday
Feb192013

Toddler Injured in Superstorm Sandy Now Battles Deadly Infection

Courtesy of the Halstead family(ATLANTA) -- A Georgia 2-year-old struck by a tree branch during Superstorm Sandy is now battling a potentially life-threatening illness he contracted while in the hospital receiving treatment for his injuries, his family said on Facebook.

Tripp Halstead was playing outside his daycare center in Winder, Ga., on Oct. 29 when Sandy’s winds brought a tree limb down on his head.  He suffered brain damage, underwent emergency surgery and has been in Children’s Health Care of Atlanta ever since.  Last week -- more than three months after the historic storm -- Tripp contracted bacterial meningitis, his mother said on Facebook.

“I have just been staring at that sweet little face.  To think we had come so far, then to get the scare on Thursday that he might have a life- threatening infection and we might lose him,” Stacy Halstead posted on Facebook Saturday.  “Worst day to boot so far.”

The boy’s Facebook page has generated at least 231,831 “likes” since it was set up soon after his injury.  His parents have been asking readers to pray for their son and contribute money for expenses related to his care.

Bacterial meningitis usually affects brain trauma patients in medium- or long-term intensive care, Dr. Bill Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.  It usually occurs when bacteria gets into the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain, he said.

Even with the cleanest instruments, there’s always a risk bacteria will be introduced into a person’s body when hospital workers use a needle, catheter or other medical tool, he said.

“Every time you breach the body’s protective surface you run the risk of an infection getting from the outside in,” Schaffner said.  “The longer you’re in an intensive care unit, the higher the risk is.”

There are two types of meningitis -- viral and bacterial -- and bacterial meningitis is the more dangerous, Schaffner said.  A vaccine for the viral form, called meningococcal meningitis, is routinely administered to kids starting at age 11, he said.

Tripp got the infection after an emergency surgery was performed Thursday to remove a pump that had been inserted into the fluid surrounding Tripp’s brain to administer medication, his family said.

It appears that doctors noticed the infection early.  Normal treatment would include giving Tripp antibiotics, said Schaffner, who is not involved in Tripp’s treatment.

Tripp’s mother said doctors were able to remove the boy’s breathing tube on Saturday.

“They still think he is doing better.  Still has an infection in his blood so not sure how much longer we will be in ICU,” she said.  “They are doing all that they can to fight it.  He is such a little trooper and hanging in there.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov082012

Displacement Takes Its Toll on Still Homeless New Yorkers

John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At the height of superstorm Sandy, Leigh Devine and her 8-year-old daughter waded through a flooded lobby in a total blackout to leave their apartment in lower Manhattan, and they have not returned. In fact, since then they've stayed with four different friends who live further uptown, on drier grounds.

They're not alone. The neighborhood below Manhattan's City Hall was battered by wind, rain and 14-foot surges. Although there's no official tally, many buildings along the edges of the East and Hudson rivers that suffered extensive wind and water damage have been evacuated indefinitely.

Consequently, thousands of downtowners are still wandering from couch to couch, showering at the gym and recharging cell phones at Starbucks. This downtown diaspora is beginning to take an emotional toll on displaced residents.

"I try to take it in stride and feel thankful no one lost a limb, but I have moments when I get upset and anxious," said Devine.

Ellen Tyson, a mother of two, has been told her building located at the tip of the island just across the street from Battery Park may not be habitable for at least another week – but it could also be months. Her building management said it's a moving target because they are still assessing the damage and coordinating with Con Ed and other utilities. She's been searching for a short-term sublet just in case it's the latter, but they're few and far between and prices are sky high.

"I feel super displaced like a vagabond – I don't even feel like putting on my makeup," she said. "I just don't feel like myself most of the time."

Holly Parker, a psychologist with Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., said all of these emotions are to be expected, considering everything that people are going through.

"Daily hassles can be draining in the best of circumstances. But when the basics we all take for granted, such as having a home, are lost, it can be completely disorienting," she said.

Parker said people like to feel a sense of safety and control. When they live through a natural disaster such as Sandy, it suddenly becomes clear they can't control everything.

"It can completely shake up your worldview."

Moving from place to place can be particularly hard on children, Parker said, because they don't have a lot of control over their lives to begin with and they're less able to wrap their heads around what's happening. Parents can allay their kid's fears by staying calm, providing comfort and maintaining routines as much as possible – but Parker warned that parents need to be mindful that this extra responsibility can ratchet up their own stress even higher.

Then there's the guilt. Many find it embarrassing to ask friends and family for a favor, particularly when it's something big, like a place to stay. As Devine pointed out, "You don't want to inconvenience anyone or become a burden, especially if you don't know how long it's going to be for."

But Parker said it's important to understand how much others want to help those in need. "Everyone wants to do something for those they care about," she said.

There may be a double dose of guilt for some. How can you gripe about temporary inconveniences when people in places like New Jersey, Staten Island and the Far Rockways in Queens have lost cars, homes, and in some truly heartwrenching cases, loved ones? Tyson, for example, admitted it's hard to complain when she knows what others are going through.

"People have homes that are flooded away forever. Some can't help themselves financially. We can always find another place and suck it up. What have I got to be angry about, really?" she said.

According to Parker, it's common for people to invalidate their own feelings with this sort of thinking. "On the one hand they can acknowledge they're feeling bad about their situation and on the other hand, they assume they don't have the right to feel the way they do because there are others who have it worse."

Recognizing that others have had a rougher go than you can be comforting. Parker said it makes you grateful for what you have left. But she cautioned against minimizing your own hardships.

"You still have the right to feel upset and anxious about everything you're going through."

Parker also encouraged anyone who's waiting out the aftereffects of the storm to give themselves credit for holding it together and doing what they need to do for themselves and their families to make it through.

"Keep looking forward and keep reminding yourself, It's not forever," she said.

That's just what Devine is trying to do.

"I just try to focus on the gratitude and remind myself that at the end of the day, this will all be a distant memory someday."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov072012

Post-Sandy Nor'easter Poses Hypothermia Risk

Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As those facing the devastation left in the wake of superstorm Sandy continue to seek shelter, meteorologists point to a new threat -- a nor'easter heading for devastated areas.

The storm could pack 50 mph gusts in coastal areas, 1 to 3 inches of rain from New York to Boston and a continuation of the frigid temperatures that followed last week's superstorm.

It's a situation that has some doctors worried that many of those affected by Sandy could face a life-threatening situation in the form of hypothermia.

"Many left without power and heat will be at risk of hypothermia as the nor'easter is scheduled to hit the New York City and New Jersey area," said Dr. Sharon Horesh Bergquist, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta.

The strong wind and rain is expected to hit the New Jersey and New York coast early Wednesday morning.  Some models are also predicting a 40-50 percent chance of snow in the metro New York area by Wednesday night, and winds up to 40 mph are expected to continue into Thursday.

The Red Cross is increasing efforts in New York, offering shelter to roughly 9,000 people and handing out an additional 80,000 blankets Monday night -- a clear indication of where the organization's concerns lie when it comes to those without heat or shelter.

"Certainly one of our biggest concerns is the cold, because you have people without power," said Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Pipkin.  "We're ramping up our efforts so these people have even more blankets, more hand warmers.  We really want to make sure everyone stays warm."

Hypothermia occurs when the body's temperature falls below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.  This puts people at risk to develop serious lung, heart, or nervous system problems, sometimes leading to death.

Symptoms of hypothermia include appearing confused or intoxicated or shivering, although shivering actually stops at severely cold body temperatures.

"As people get colder, they actually stop shivering, losing their ability to retain any heat," said Dr. Darria Gillespie, emergency physician at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  "They may also almost appear intoxicated, with confusion, clumsiness, slurred speech, and fatigue."

In the most serious of cases, the potential complications from hypothermia can be severe, even fatal.

"The complications can range from minor cold related illness to death from prolonged exposure or complications from prolonged exposure," said Dr. Henderson McGinnis, emergency physician at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The very young and very old may be at the highest risk.

"The elderly often have difficulty with thermoregulation and infants have a relatively larger body surface area thus are at increase heat loss risk," said Dr. Christopher Russi, emergency physician at the Mayo Clinic.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov062012

Risk for Illness and Injury Linger After Sandy

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's been a week since superstorm Sandy unleashed flooding, power outages and wind damage on the East Coast, and although recovery efforts are underway, doctors warn that residents are not out of the woods for new health hazards.

Mold Causes Breathing Problems


With flooding comes mold, and it can make victims sick even if it's invisible, doctors warned.

"Even if you're not allergic, mold spores tend to be irritating to the airways and can cause respiratory symptoms," said Dr. David Rosenstreich, the director of Allergy and Immunology at Montefiore Medical Center.  He said that an estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of the population is allergic to mold.

Dr. Christopher Portier, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Center for Environmental Health, said mold can trigger asthma and even cause headaches when it's in a certain growth phase.

"Mold is going to be a serious problem unless you take care of it right now," said Portier, who also directs the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.  "It's very tricky to predict what's going to happen with it and the bottom line is that you really don't want it in your home."

Visible mold can be wiped away with a bleach and water mixture.

Portier suggested removing and discarding drywall and insulation that came into contact with floodwater and discarding items that can't be washed.  These include mattresses, carpeting, rugs and stuffed animals.

Bacteria Causes Illnesses and Infections

Floodwaters are dangerous because they often contain raw sewage, as ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser proved last week, when he tested a sample from lower Manhattan and found gasoline, e.coli and coliform.

But the health risk isn't gone when the water recedes because contaminated puddles and surfaces remain, Portier said.

People, especially children, can get sick by touching contaminated objects and putting their hands in their mouths, causing gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, Portier said. They can also get infections from coming in contact with the bacteria with open sores and cuts, which can be "very difficult to treat."

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Back-up Generators

Superstorm Sandy left millions without power last Monday night, but already several people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of using back-up generators and coal stoves inside their homes without proper ventilation, according to the CDC.

"It's odorless," Portier said. "You can't tell it's there, and then you start getting a headache, lay down and don't get up."

Carbon monoxide poisoning affects red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body.  However, the blood cells pick up carbon monoxide faster than they pick up oxygen, so when there's a lot of carbon monoxide in the air, they don't pick up enough oxygen.  The result is tissue damage from oxygen deprivation that can ultimately result in death.

Home Repairs Gone Awry and Other Injuries

Dr. Joseph Guarisco, the chief of emergency services for Ochsner Health System in New Orleans, said he saw it all in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina filled his ER with patients for months after the storm.

"It's going to be a new environment, and you have to be really mindful and that's the key thing," Guarisco said.  "There are dangers lurking everywhere that were not there before the storm."

For the first several weeks, Guarisco's patients ran into problems because they were evacuated outside their health networks and couldn't see their regular physicians or get their prescriptions.  He saw many patients with chronic issues, such as renal failure, who couldn't get access to normal treatment like dialysis.

He also saw hydration and nutrition issues, as well as patients who tried to ride out being sick on their own but eventually needed to see a doctor.  Some patients tried to eat contaminated or unrefrigerated food, and came down with gastrointestinal ailments.

Once that subsided, the home repair injuries started pouring in.

"As people return [home] it kind of evolves to a different nature of patients trying to put things back together," he said.  "They fall off the roof into standing water, lots of eye injuries from branches and debris.  Lots of soft tissue stuff."

He said people who had never used power tools in their lives suddenly felt compelled to use power chain saws, power drills and nail guns.  Many of them came in with hand injuries.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov022012

Max the Dog Survives Sandy's Wrath and Death of Owner

Jessie Streich-Kest was walking her dog when a tree fell and killed Jessie on Oct. 29, 2012. (Courtesy NYCCommunities)(NEW YORK) -- Max, a friendly pit-bull-pointer-shepherd mix, was saved by a good Samaritan Tuesday, after he was found trapped under a fallen tree with the bodies of his owner Jessie Streich-Kest, and her friend Jacob Vogelman.

Max, a shoo-in for the Target dog with a brown patch over his eye, was taken to Verg South, an emergency veterinary hospital in Brooklyn, where he is expected to recover from head injuries, a broken jaw and some lacerations to the mouth.

For him, it was a second rescue -- he was a shelter dog. And now, Verg South will take care of him pro-bono until he can go home to live with his owner's family.

"It's just a testament to Max's spirit that he pulled through this tragedy," said veterinarian Brett Levitzke, who is treating the dog.

"It's also a testament to his owner that she went to a local shelter and saved putting him to sleep," he said. "That's why the whole story is really heartbreaking, but hopefully it will have a happy ending for Max."

He, like hundreds of pets up and down the East Coast, were separated from their owners or killed as hurricane-force winds and flooding took down everything in their path.

NYCVert, which since 9/11 has worked with the city's Office of Emergency Management to develop disaster planning for pets, estimated about 100 animals pets have been rescued and taken to shelters in New York City during superstorm Sandy.

"And that's not counting those that ended up in hospitals or were stranded," said Levitzke, 41.

The hospital, with generators, has been operational 24/7 since the storm. One dog had salt water toxicity from being stuck in flood waters, causing his brain to swell. Others have suffered from stress that causes vomiting.

"It runs the gamut," he said of the injuries. The hospital also takes in abandoned pets.

Max was found alive Tuesday when a neighbor went outside in the Ditmas Park section of Brooklyn to take pictures of the fallen tree.

"He was mentally very dull because of head trauma," said Levitzke. The dog will likely need jaw surgery after his head injuries subside.

He described Max as a large "Brooklyn garden variety mutt," with a "sweet face and a sweet disposition."

Max had been adopted by Streich-Kest, a special education teacher at the Buschwick High School for Social Justice, from the ASPCA. She was an activist who championed the homeless and even the carriage horses in Central Park.

"Jessie was a wonderful, amazing human being and they were a perfect match, so I am happy he is surviving," Barbara Gross, a friend of the family, said of Max. "They were inseparable."

Her parents, Jon Kest and Fran Streich, both community organizers, were devasted by their daughter's death and plan to keep the dog, according to Gross, 54.

Streich-Kest got Max from the ASPCA when she moved into her first apartment about two years ago, according to Gross.

"He was a real comfort and anchor for her," she said. "Everyone said the dog thought he was human."

At Verg South, Max has been "definitely critical for the past few days, but over the past 24 hours, he has taken quite a turn for the better in terms of his neurological status," said Levitzke.

As of Friday, Max was out of his cage and eating. "He's a ton better," he said. "The fact is, Max is a real trooper."

Levitzke said the city had done a "good job" of looking after pets, informing them how to make preparations for evacuations and even providing accommodation for family pets at evacuation shelters.

"For all those reasons, the numbers aren't going to be as staggering as Katrina," he said, where an estimated 600,000 animals were lost or perished.

For future weather emergency preparedness, Levitzke advises families to pack "go bags" for animals, with food, blankets, carriers and leashes, and most importantly ID for your pet and even a photo taken with you in case you are separated.

"Everyone is dealing with the aftereffects of Sandy," said Levitzke. "Max is welcome to stay with us as long as he needs. And while they get their feet on the ground. We will take care of his injuries."

"The family has lost everything," he said. "But pets are family and now they have one less thing to worry about."

For questions and to help reunite pets and their owners, call the city's Pet Hotline at (347) 573-1561.


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

NY Fertility Clinic Saves Embryos from Hurricane Sandy

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Among all the rescues carried out during the chaos caused by Hurricane Sandy, the most delicate was the mission to save embryos in rows of incubators that were in jeopardy when the NYU Fertility Clinic lost its power.

The Manhattan clinic lost power shortly after Sandy struck Monday night.  A generator perched atop the 8-story building kept incubators running through the night, but flooding in the basement cut off its fuel supply.

"The generator ran out of gas around 8:15 Tuesday morning," said Dr. James Grifo, the clinic's director.

Without power, rows of incubators housing delicate embryos at womb-temperature for in vitro fertilization began to cool.  But Grifo and his team took action, hoisting five-gallon cans of diesel fuel up darkened stairwells to feed the failing generator.

"It was really a privilege to be part of that," Grifo said of his staff's "heroic" efforts.

The fuel bought the team enough time to transfer the embryos into liquid nitrogen, where they can be stored indefinitely.

The embryos were secured as another urgent issue arose.  At 10 a.m., a patient arrived for an egg retrieval -- a surgical procedure timed down to the hour after a two-week run of expensive fertility drugs.

Grifo loaded the woman into his car, along with her husband and their baby, and rushed them to a colleague's clinic uptown.

"It's amazing what people can do when everyone's on the same page," Grifo said, adding that the rest of the clinic's patients were booked into clinics throughout the city to "salvage" their cycles.

"It's a testament to the people in New York who work in medicine," he added.  "Some of our most vicious competitors offered assistance."

Sandy spawned record-breaking tides around lower Manhattan, prompting power outages from East 39th Street to Battery Park at the southern tip of the island.  The NYU Fertility Center is on First Avenue and 38th street, just a block from the overflowing East River.

The storm forced NYU Langone Medical Center to evacuate 300 patients in gusts of wind topping 70 miles per hour.  Cells, tissues and animals used for medical research were left to die in failing refrigerators, freezers and incubators.

But thanks to Grifo and his team, eggs and embryos were spared.

"Hopefully we'll get some babies out of it, and that'll be a nice story as well," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

Sewage, Bacteria, Gasoline Found in NYC Floodwater

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Water is everywhere in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy – in basements, on the streets and in transit systems – but the one place it could be most dangerous is in your body.

ABC News chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser collected floodwater and drinking water in some of the areas hit hardest by Sandy and had them tested at The Ambient Group lab. The floodwater collected in Lower Manhattan tested positive for gasoline and two types of bacteria found in sewage: E. coli and coliform.

“Very dangerous,” Besser said. “Make sure you wear protective gear if you are coming into contact with flood water.”

Looking at the testing containers filled with Manhattan floodwater, Besser said that the yellow in one container meant bacteria was present and the purple in another meant “sky-high levels of sewage contamination.”

Wednesday, he went to Piermont, N.Y., an area hit so hard by the hurricane that it’s under a boil water advisory, meaning residents are instructed not to drink tap water without purifying it with several drops of bleach.

When a power outage knocked out one of Piermont’s water pumps, officials were concerned about tap water contamination. The water company tested water from a hydrant, which initially ran brown, but eventually cleared.

Besser tested the hydrant water as well and saw that it had chlorine in it, which protects it from germs.

He also collected tap water from a family’s home faucet, but the lab results won’t be ready until Thursday. The family is already boiling its water as a precaution.

Water companies are responsible for alerting residents if their water is unsafe to drink. Alerts can also come from town or city officials.

Click here for a list of areas under boil water advisory.

In New York City, for instance, the Department of Environmental Protection announced that its water was safe to drink. Water in reservoirs 125 miles north of the city continue to be monitored closely with extra testing in the wake of the storm.

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

Backup Generator Fails; NYU Medical Center Evacuated

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Paramedics and other medical workers began to evacuate patients from New York University Langone Medical Center due to a power outage caused by Tropical Storm Sandy, followed by a failure of backup generators at the hospital, New York City officials said Monday night.

About 200 patients, roughly 45 of whom are critical care patients, were moved out of NYU via private ambulance with the assistance of the New York Fire Department, city officials said. ABC News' Chris Murphey reported a long line of ambulances outside of NYU Langone waiting to transport patients to other hospitals in the city.

The hospital had a total of 800 patients two days ago, some patients were discharged before Monday night's evacuation, which was described by emergency management officials as "a total evacuation."

According to ABC's Josh Haskell, 24 ambulances lined the street, waiting to be waved in to pick up patients from NYU Lagone Medical Center. "Every four minutes a patient comes out and an empty ambulance pulls up. The lobby of the Medical Center is full of hospital personnel, family members, and patients," Haskell reports.

The patients were moved to a number of area hospitals and according to officials at NYU, the receiving hospitals would notify family members.

Sloan Kettering Hospital spokesman Chris Hickey confirmed to ABC News' Gitika Ahuja that it is receiving 26 adult patients from NYU, at their request. Hickey said she didn't know whether they had been admitted yet or what their conditions were.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital spokesman Wade Bryan Dotson said it is also accepting patients from NYU at both campuses, Columbia and Weill Cornell.

Meanwhile, ABC News affiliate WABC captured footage of patients being evacuated; among the first patients brought out of the hospital on gurneys was a mother and her newborn child.

On Monday morning, NYU Langone Medical Center had issued a press release that indicated the hospital's emergency preparedness plan had been activated and that there were "no plans to evacuate" at the time.

Shortly after the reports of an evacuation at NYU Langone, city officials reported that a second major New York City hospital, Bellevue Hospital, was about to lose backup power due to a generator failure.

Requests for more information from NYU Langone Medical Center spokespeople were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio