Hospitals continue repair work one year after Sandy

Dr. Sapna Parikh reports
October 29, 2013 2:01:21 PM PDT
The storm flooded and forced the closure of some our cities biggest hospitals.

Clinics on wheels, and temporary emergency rooms in trailers and tents. That was the picture of healthcare for months after Superstorm Sandy.

Millions of gallons of water poured into the lower levels of Bellevue Hospital , Coney Island Hospital and NYU Langone, destroying medical and electrical equipment, and the fuel for emergency generators.

In total, medical teams safely evacuated over 6000 patients from 37 healthcare facilities.

The National Guard helped carry patients like Caroline Hughes down 10 floors. She had a broken spine, a broken pelvis and a broken shoulder.

"I was just in a lot of pain, but now looking back I really realize how scared I was," she said," said Alan Aviles, CEO of Health and Hospital Corporation.

Aviles says at Bellevue, they moved crucial electrical equipment up to the first floor in vaults. And they're working on alternate options to fuel 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," adds Aviles.

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

That temporary wall can be deployed with 2 hours notice. At Coney Island Hospital, the pediatrics floor has not reopened but the emergency room is up and running after the complete devastation we showed you last fall.

Meanwhile at NYU, the emergency department is still closed. There's an urgent care open if you have an emergency, but they're not accepting any ambulances yet.

The man ER, still under major construction, but building officials say they have tested temporary flood barriers and have taken steps to protect the emergency fuel pumps in the basement.

"Strengthen the vault that the tanks are in, and 2 to provide redundance, so if one fails we have a secondary source," said Paul Schwabacher, NYU Langone.

As hospitals continue to rebuild, Caroline is walking again.

"I'm just grateful for all the hospital personnel at Bellevue Hospital and Roosevelt Hospital.

And she says grateful for the entire experience.