Storm-damaged Bellevue Hospital on Manhattan's East Side began offering patients limited services on Monday, three weeks after it was shut down and evacuated by Hurricane Sandy. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Although it has much to do to fully reopen, Bellevue Hospital on Manhattan's East Side started seeing adults and children in its primary care department and clinics for the first time since Sandy.
The hospital is also now taking walk-in patients with non-emergencies 24 hours a day and offered outpatient primary care clinics and routine OB/GYN services.
Nadine McGregor told NY1 she was happy to be among the hospital's few patients on Monday.
"It is important for me because I need to se a doctor to get my thyroid medicine, so it's open. I'm glad it's open, I like Bellevue," said McGregor
"It was three weeks ago that we saw our last patients leave here and I thought we were all going to crumble, but here we are back again," said Lynda Curtis, the senior vice president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Millions of gallons of water from the East River poured into Bellevue's basement at the height of the storm and more than 700 patients had to be evacuated.
"Each safely bundled up by their care provider on the inpatient units, then carried down 16 flights of stairs by national guardsmen or emergency medical technicians, to be checked by clinical staff at ground level and to be loaded aboard the waiting ambulances," said Dr. Nathan Link, Bellevue's medical director. "No patient was harmed during this remarkable process."
With more than 625,000 visits every year, Bellevue is considered the flagship of the city's publicly run health care system. But as important as this facility is, officials said it will not be fully operational until February.
"There is still much work to do to repair the extensive damage to the heating, domestic water, ventilation, communications, elevator systems caused when the flood waters surged into the hospital's 180,000-square-feet basement," said Alan Aviles, the president of the HHC.
Hospital officials are hoping the emergency room will open its doors in mid-December, followed by the operating rooms in February.