Second hospital is evacuated as New York struggles to recover from hurricane

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 02 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7420
  1. Edward Davies
  1. 1BMJ, New York

The National Guard has been called in to help evacuate a second hospital in Manhattan, two days after Hurricane Sandy first hit New York.

Bellevue Hospital, one of New York City’s flagship public hospitals, shut down on Wednesday after fuel pumps for its backup power generators failed.

Flood damage at the hospital is so extensive that a full evacuation of patients was necessary said Alan Alviles, president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation that runs Bellevue. He added that the facility would be “doing very well” if it’s able to reopen in even two or three weeks.

The hospital had moved out over 400 patients by the evening of 31 October and hoped to have the remaining 300 evacuated by midday on 1 November.

After pumping out 17 million gallons (65 million L) of water from the basement, the water is still two and a half feet (0.76 m) deep in the area where the fuel pumps are, which shorted out and stopped working, unable to feed the 13th-floor backup generators, Aviles said.

The Greater New York Hospital Association, a hospital trade group, worked into Wednesday evening with the State Health Department and emergency management officials to find beds for the patients at other hospitals, some of which had just absorbed more than 300 patients from NYU Langone Medical Center, also a casualty of failed backup power during the hurricane.1

Various hospitals in the area have offered extra beds including Mount Sinai Hospital, which took in 64 emergency evacuees from NYU Langone on Monday. The Health Department authorized “surge-capacity plans” that allow hospitals to take patients beyond their normal capacity in a disaster, if necessary converting nonclinical space such as conference rooms into wards.


Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7420