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BREAKING NEWS: As Hurricane Sandy Bears Down on the East Coast, Hospitals Prepare for the Worst

October 29, 2012
by The editors of Long-Term Living and Healthcare Informatics magazines
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As Hurricane Sandy bears down on the east coast of the United States, hospitals prepare for extreme emergency conditions
Street in Atlantic City flooded on Oct. 29 (ABC News)

Below, please find a report compiled by our colleagues at our sister publication, Long-Term Living, and supplemented by other news reporting. Thanks to our LTL colleagues for this report.

As Hurricane Sandy, a storm of unprecedented power and scope, bears down on the east coast of the United States, hospitals prepared for extreme emergency conditions, while anticipating many unknowns in a rapidly evolving emergency situation.

The coastal areas along the New Jersy shore and low-lying regions of New York are experiencing high winds, heavy flooding and power outages, and Hurricane Sandy hadn’t even arrived yet, as of mid-afternoon on Monday, Oct. 29.

The lessons learned from Hurricane Irene seem to have prompted better advanced planning by businesses and faster compliance with evacuation orders.

General evacuations began Sunday from Connecticut to southern New Jersey. By Monday, most vulnerable New York hospitals canceled elective surgeries to free up beds for emergencies. New York Downtown Hospital was evacuated completely because of backup power concerns.

Hospitals and nursing homes in New Jersey followed suit, with Crozer Keystone Health System, which operates five hospitals in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, announcing on its website that it is working to discharge patients who do not need acute care.

ABC News online and The Huffington Post both ran extensive news stories on preparations by hospital executives and leaders to prepare for the oncoming storm, expected to be one of the most severe and extensive in recent memory. While some hospitals moved to eliminate all non-urgent care, such as elective surgeries, hospital leaders activated emergency plans across the mid-Atlantic region, understanding that they will be absolutely necessary institutions during the course of the evolving natural disaster. As Prescilla Koutsouradis, communications director for the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council, told the Huffington Post on Monday, “Hospitals don’t close. They just don’t close. They’re open 24/7.” And, she added, Major weather events and other emergencies are “part of the regular drill.”

Healthcare Informatics will continue to update our readers on developments in this evolving story.