Effects of Hurricane Sandy still linger at hospitals

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Months after Hurricane Sandy, hospitals are still feeling the impact. The affected hospitals extend beyond New York University Langone Medical Center and Bellevue Hospital that shut down after storm damages. Neighboring hospitals have absorbed their emergency patients and even medical residents.

Although Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday announced the federal government is injecting $150 million to reimburse NYU Langone for rebuilding costs, the funds are only a small fraction of the estimated $1.1 billion economic hit the hospital took, NY1 reported.

NYU Langone isn't expected to fully reopen until January, and Bellevue won't reopen until February, Kaiser Health News reported.

Since the storm hit, a number of nearby hospitals took in emergency patients, with one hospital even buying additional beds at a local furniture store to accommodate the influx of patients, according to The New York Times. For instance, without Bellevue's trauma center, emergency room visits jumped 25 percent at NewYork-Presybterian/Weill Cornell.

In response to hospital closings, 900 union nurses are urging the mayor to open a temporary hospital in Manhattan, Crain's New York Business reported. Hackensack University Medical Center supplied a "mobile satellite emergency department" in Long Beach, N.J., but the New York State Nurses Association said there are other patient needs besides emergency care, including primary care access issues, in which they report patients with chronic conditions cannot get their medications.

Administrators also are worried that other teaching hospitals are luring away their doctors, the NYT reported. In NYU Langone's case, the hospital's salaried doctors are being paid through January, on the condition that they do not take another job.

Meanwhile, 170 third- and fourth-year medical students either have to defer their rotations or go to other hospitals, KHN reported.

Adding on to facility damages, Hurricane Sandy wiped out cancer and asthma research at NYU Langone, including thousands of lab rodents and hundreds of biological samples, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, as well as 700 computer nodes, The Scientist reported.

"The infrastructure has been essentially obliterated," National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins said last month.

For more information:
- here's the NY1 report
- read the KHN article
- read the Crain's New York article
- see the NYT article
- here's the Scientist article

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