New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced Nov. 6 that the city has secured a commitment of at least $1.6 billion in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair and protect public hospitals damaged in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy.
For nurses such as Terry Mancher, RN, the CNO of Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, the funding is welcome news.
What happened that night will never happen again, Mancher told Nurse.com. We wont have a problem with no electricity. That night we had no electricity, no lights, no communication, no nothing. We had to deal with everything on our own.
According to a news release, the funds will advance the citys comprehensive, five-borough resiliency plan and fund improvements at four New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation facilities: Coney Island, Bellevue Hospital Center and Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan and Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island. The allocation is the second-largest in FEMA history.
Few services are as critical as our hospitals during extreme weather, de Blasio said in a news release.
The funds will cover:
$923 million for Coney Island Hospital, including reimbursement for repairs already made to the hospitals basement, first floor and electrical systems. It also includes construction of a new resilient critical services building that will house an ED on the second floor, plus critical medical services such as X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, pharmacy and labs. Vital mechanical services, such as emergency power generators, heating and cooling systems and water pumps also will be installed in the new building. The hospital also will build a new 1,720-foot flood wall that will protect critical services on the current part of the campus to the level of a 500-year flood.
With the money were getting and the new building, all the support services, the mechanicals, the electricals, all the food is going to be raised up, Mancher said. So if a hurricane like this happens again, we wont have these issues. So for us, taking care of patients, there wont be any issues.
Coney Island has undergone intensive renovations to its basement and first floor, repairing walls, replacing equipment, and, where possible, relocating vital electrical systems to higher elevations and out of flood areas, according to the release. The hospital also has acquired temporary flood barrier systems that can be erected in advance of a storm around its ED, main entrances, and around its generator facility, which is in a separate building in the hospitals parking lot.
The funding also will help HHC nurses, such as those at Coney Island, perform their duties without the numerous challenges that occurred during Superstorm Sandy.
The staff was fantastic, but they were stressed, Mancher said of her nurses. It was a very, very, very, very scary night, the scariest night Ive ever had in 35 years. A lot of the nurses had kids at home and they didnt know what was going on. They still stayed with those patients and took care of them. Now that stress is gone, they dont have to worry about that anymore. They can come in during a storm and know theyll be able to go home and take care of their families.
$376 million for Bellevue for intensive restoration work and already repaired or replaced equipment damaged by the storm. In many cases, equipment such as electrical switching gear has been relocated out of the hospitals basement to higher elevation areas on the first floor. Bellevue also has installed removable flood barriers at its two loading dock entrances facing the East River, and raised its drinking water and fuel pumps to higher elevations.
FEMA funds will reimburse HHC for repairs and mitigation work partially completed. It also will fund a new 2,350-foot flood wall that will protect critical parts of the campus to the 500-year flood level, new storm and sanitary drainage pumps and new flood-proof elevators for the hospitals main tower.
$120 million for Metropolitan, including almost $7 million for electrical repairs and $109 million for a flood wall that will protect critical infrastructure on the campus to the 500-year flood level.
$181 million for Coler, including replacement of a generator that was destroyed, reimbursement for repairs already completed to the electrical system and a flood wall that will protect critical parts of the campus to the 500-year flood level.
Freelance writer Joe Stevenson contributed to this report.