Emergency room struggles after Hurricane Sandy

March 12, 2013 2:46:01 PM PDT
On a late afternoon in Brooklyn's Borough Park, the patients come by the minute.

The space for them fills up by the minute at Maimonides Medical Center.

It was 2:00 p.m. in the emergency room and already there were 2 rows of stretchers.

"You're doubled in, the rooms are all packed and you got people sitting out. You're in lanes, you can't turn," patient David McCann said.

It's true. Stretcher was against stretcher, lined up in a rare look at the record numbers this emergency room has been dealing with ever since Superstorm Sandy.

"Oh, it's exploded for us and it's been continuous," Dr. Steven Rudolph, stroke center director, said.

For example, prior to Sandy, the ER at Maimonides averaged about 315 patients per day. Now, it's up to 360.

One patient on this day was David, a 44-year old construction worker who came in with a blood clot in his leg. He had been waiting five hours when we saw him.

Vivian, Alla and Carol were also here for several hours when we arrived.

Vivian was suffering from dizziness and waited three hours to see a doctor.

Alla came in with an infected leg.

"I just had to scream to get a stretcher," she said.

Carol has a form of colitis, and hours after she came into the ER, she still had a sense of humor.

"Our rails were touching me and this gentleman here. I said, 'I haven't been this close to my husband,'" she joked.

On the north side of the ER in critical care, these doctors and nurses continue to save lives. At 3:40 pm, in the middle of our interview with the director of the stroke center, a stroke patient walked into the ER.

The 91-year-old man was evaluated, scanned and treated within minutes. He was one of 6 stroke patients that day.

Meanwhile, back on the south side of the ER, none of the 4 patients we interviewed earlier had been moved. The only one who had good news was David. He was told he would be going home, eventually.

Eventually meant another hour. Both David and Vivian were released by 5:30 pm. He spent 8 and a half hours in the ER. She spent nearly 6:00. Meanwhile, Alla and Carol were still there at 7:00 p.m. when we left.