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Sandy devastates NYC hospitals, causes billions in damage

As post-tropical storm Sandy's violent winds and torrential flooding hammered the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states Monday night, many hospitals were left to deal with the crippling aftermath.

[Also: Gov. Christie reports widespread power outages at NJ hospitals]

Wind speeds of up to 90 miles per hour were recorded in New York and New Jersey late Monday, as the 900-mile-wide storm barreled its way toward land.

As power was knocked out in New York City, the NYU Tisch Hospital in lower Manhattan was forced to transfer some 215 patients to nearby hospitals, after a backup generator failed.

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[Also: HackensackUMC prepares for Hurricane Sandy to ensure patient safety, sufficient supplies]

"It's a challenging situation," Robert Grossman, dean of NYU Medical, told WCBS-TV. "We drill all the time for this kind of thing. But this isn't a drill. This is the real thing."

CNN spoke to Andrew Brotman, MD, senior vice president and vice dean for clinical affairs and strategy at NYU Langone, who said 10 to 12 feet of water flooded the hospital’s lower floors and elevators.

After two hours, backup generators failed and the power went out. Some 1,000 staff members worked to evacuate priority patients using flashlights, CNN reported.

“Things went downhill very, very rapidly and very unexpectedly,” Brotman said. "The flooding was just unprecedented.”
Wayne Keathley, president and COO at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, told Healthcare IT News that, currently, 65 patients from NYU Medical Center have been transferred to Mt. Sinai on account of the flooding and power outages.

Mt. Sinai still has power, and Keathley says the hospital has been largely spared from the storm’s damages. After coordinating with various hospitals and the Greater New York Hospital Association, he anticipates Mt. Sinai will take on additional transfers throughout today.  

“We’re frankly all grateful that we got through another tough storm,” Keathley said, “without getting serious damage to the facility or certainly introducing serious injuries to patients or staff.”

Some experts forecast that Sandy’s economic toll may surpass $20 billion, Bloomberg reported, with insured losses responsible for $7 billion of the tab.

Others say, however, say the damages could be more severe. Peter Morici, business professor at the University of Maryland, wrote that Hurricane Sandy will ultimately inflict greater economic toll than 2011’s Hurricane Irene, whose damages have been pegged at $15 to $20 billion. Morici said Sandy will cost an estimated $35 to $45 billion.

Most recent estimates have pegged the hurricane's death toll in the U.S. at 34 people, with many of them killed from falling trees, according to the Associated Press -- this in addition to the some 69 already killed in the Caribbean.

As of Tuesday morning, more than 16,000 flights were canceled due to the hurricane, The Wall Street Journal reported, with many airports, such as LaGaurdia, reporting flooding.