Tour of NYU, Bellevue Hospitals 1-year after Sandy

October 24, 2013 3:51:18 PM PDT
Next week marks one year since Superstorm Sandy struck the Tri-State area.

Now, we're getting our first look inside two of the biggest hospitals in our area to see the rebuilding progress.

"Are these the elevators that flooded?" Eyewitness News Dr. Sapna Parikh asked.

"They are, there are actually 22 elevators," said Alan Aviles, CEO, Health and Hospitals Corp., President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.

With the loss of elevators, power, and water, Bellevue Hospital shutdown for the first time ever after Sandy. The basement looks much better now, but millions of gallons of water poured in destroying fuel for generators and crucial electrical equipment.

"The biggest lesson is we need prepare not just for another Superstorm Sandy but for a storm of greater force and magnitude," Aviles said.

Short term repairs include moving electrical equipment up to vaults on the first floor, and creating alternative options to fuel emergency generators.

"There are special quick connects that are being constructed, it's not complete as we stand here, but it will be shortly. That would allow us to pull up a diesel truck with its own pump that would bypass the pumps that at the moment is still in the basement," Aviles said.

So the loading dock was the problem because it's where water rushed into the basement and into the hospital, so they built a new flood gate to prevent that.

That gate can be deployed with two hours notice.

Officials say long term plans include a possible permanent flood wall around the hospitals perimeter.

Meanwhile, at NYU Langone Medical Center, they have a temporary urgent care that is open but the Emergency Room won't be completed until April of 2014.

"The water was a foot and half deep and destroyed the whole kitchen," said Paul Schwabacher, of NYU Langone Medical Center, Senior Vice President for Medical Center Facilities Management.

The main kitchen is now open, but the main area of damage, the basement which housed medical equipment and laboratory animals crucial for research, is still closed.

"It pretty much stopped it in its tracks, we're coming back by recreating those lines with help," said Gordon Fishell, PhD, NYU Langone Medical Center, Associate Director of Neuroscience.

Hospital officials would not allow Eyewitness News into the basement, but say most equipment was moved to higher floors and MRI machines are now in a temporary trailer.