Crews are trying to patch back together Coney Island Hospital after Sandy sent patients and staff running for higher ground last month. NY1's Natasha Ghoneim filed the following report.
To hear the staff of Coney Island Hospital tell it, the night Hurricane Sandy pummeled the city, what happened there rivals any medical drama on TV: Water surging rapidly that would eventually rise to 10 feet.
"We pried the doors open and there were three emergency rescue officers with two dogs on a raft. Two adults and two dogs floated into the first floor of the hospital and disembarked. They didn't need hospital care. They just needed shelter from the storm," said Health and Hospitals Corporation President Alan Aviles.
Hospital officials say 28 emergency room patients evacuated in 15 minutes.
"The patients were really nervous. But all the staff held each other's hands, stayed with them, ventilated them if they needed ventilation, and not one person did we lose," said Chief Nursing Officer Terry Mancher.
The first floor of the hospital's main building is now a construction site. The damage is so extensive the hospital won't be fully operational until January. There is no ER nor inpatient services. Fortunately, Sandy largely spared the hospital's expanded ER under construction. Crews are replacing the damaged sheet rock and the hope is to open it for walk-in service next week.
Coney Island Hospital is one of three in the city battered by the hurricane. And with the possibility that this was not a one-time event, Aviles said future preparations are on their radar.
"It's a long, complicated process. But we have consultants and experts working with us to make those assessments. Right now the focus is on repairs to get these facilities up and running," Aviles said.
Along with Coney Island Hospital, Bellevue and NYU Langone Medical Center suffered extensive hurricane damage.
The City Council has allocated $300 million for repairs and the hope is FEMA will reimburse a significant portion.