It has been six months since Superstorm Sandycaused millions of dollars of damage to Coney Island Hospital and even though the facility has reopened, it might take another year for the hospital to be fully restored, according to a report by New York 1.
Right now, the hospital is offering about two-thirds of the services it offered before Sandy shut it down and there are significant shortages yet to be overcome.
“The emergency department is operating in about 40 percent of the space prior to what it did to the storm, 911 receiving we were bringing in medicine patients and pediatric patients,” said Coney Island Hospital Executive Director Arthur Wagner.
The in-patient pediatric wing is still down and the MRI/CAT scan room is under construction. Workers are trying to strike a careful balance between providing needed services, rebuilding and keeping areas near active construction zones clean.
Despite the setbacks, Wagner credits his staff of 2,800 for giving all they could following the storm.
“They had houses and family that were affected and they still provided those services,” Wagner told New York 1.
To protect the hospital from suffering another huge power outage in the face of potential future flooding, a new electrical room is being built in a room on higher ground. Until that project is completed, the hospital is currently receiving power from neighboring buildings.
The hospital is also considering future projects that might include constructing an elevated emergency building and a water barrier surrounding the hospital’s campus. These projects would require large governmental funding.
The following is a press release from the Health and Hospitals Corporation:
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation announced today that for the first time since Hurricane Sandy flooded its basement and first floor, causing substantial damage to its emergency department, Coney Island Hospital is again receiving ambulances for most types of cases through the City’s 911 service.
“The restoration of ambulance service brings us one step closer to our goal of restoring all services in the facility and re-establishing ourselves as the primary health care source in southern Brooklyn,” said Arthur Wagner, the hospital’s Executive Director.
“Since the storm, Coney Island has been systematically restoring services to help meet the healthcare needs of the community,” said Dr. John Maese, Chief Medical Officer. “We are delighted to again expand our much-needed services to the community and accept 911 ambulances.”
Ambulances began arriving at Coney Island on Wednesday, February 20. The hospital is accepting most types of 911 patients, including heart attacks and stroke cases. Trauma care and labor and delivery remain closed.
Repairs are ongoing at Coney Island, and its emergency department continues to function at a reduced capacity due to storm damage. However, the hospital’s Tower Building has re-opened along with most of its inpatient beds and imaging and laboratory services, and the hospital has for several weeks been admitting walk-in patients from its emergency department and patients from other HHC facilities.
It has inpatient adult psychiatric beds available, operating rooms, as well as medical/surgical and intensive care beds. All primary and specialty outpatient clinics are open, and have been operating a fleet of mobile medical vans providing primary care services and flu shots in parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island affected by Sandy.
FEMA has approved $103 million in aid to the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation to help fund repairs at facilities including Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway).
Senator Charles Schumer announced last week that the funding would come through, according to the Wall Street Journal, and will contribute to repairs at Bellevue Hospital, Goler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Metropolitan Hospital Center in addition to Coney Island.
The $103 million package still falls far from the $810 million HHC execs said they needed to come back from Sandy at a press conference two weeks ago. That number includes $200 million for Coney Island Hospital, and is the total estimated price for repairs, revenue loss and improvements to protect against future storms.
Regardless, the FEMA grant will help fill the coffers and keep repairs underway.
“I’ve seen the damage with my own eyes, and it was devastating. I appreciate FEMA listening to our pleas and getting these funds here quickly. This is not the end of the aid that these hospitals will need – not by a long shot – and we’ll keep fighting until the hospitals have been fully restored and they can get back to what they’re good at – helping New Yorkers heal and recover,” Schumer said Thursday.
Coney Island Hospital is currently open for most outpatient and some inpatient services. They expect to be fully operational and resuming emergency room intake within the next few months.
The “all in” costs for repairing Coney Island Hospital (2601 Ocean Parkway) and upgrading it to be better prepared for future storms is approximately $200 million, Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles told Sheepshead Bites during a press conference yesterday.
Aviles led U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and reporters on a tour of the facility, showing off the hospital’s progress nearly two and a half months after Superstorm Sandy. The two announced that repairs to the city’s public hospitals in the wake of the storm and necessary improvements will cost $810 million – an amount included in the $51 billion aid being considered in Congress.
The first floor of Coney Island Hospital’s main building at 2601 Ocean Parkway remains a breathtaking reminder of the storm’s damage. Located nearly a mile away from the Sheepshead Bay bulkhead, and a mile-and-a-half from the Atlantic Ocean, a 14-foot storm surge barreled through the facility.
Now, electrical wiring dangles from the exposed ceilings, and walls and floors are ripped apart as contractors rebuild, and prevent further damage from mold and moisture.
But the hospital is now getting back online – at least in part – and administrators express pride in how quickly the staff rallied together to continue providing services to the community.
“It was only a few weeks ago that Superstorm Sandy forced the evacuation of all of our patients here and the temporary closure of the hospital after flood waters inundated the 10-foot-deep basement, washed through the first floor and cut off most of the vital systems needed to operate this facility safely,” said Alan Aviles, president and chief executive officer of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), at a press conference this morning. “But despite the severe damage caused by the flood waters, Coney Island Hospital was able to open its doors just days after the storm to again begin serving New Yorkers most in need of healthcare.”