Hurricane Sandy Exposes Vulnerabilities In New York City Hospital Power Backups


On the day before Hurricane Sandy, the New York University Langone Medical Center assured New York City officials that it was ready and prepared for the storm. However, the day after the storm, they were asking the same city officials for assistance when the hospital was dark and empty.

That is because the strong wind and rain knocked out the electricity and the backup generator, which was promised to work, failed. This required hospital and emergency staff to carry and escort patients down dark stairwells and bring them to other facilities. Certainly, this was a less-than-ideal situation for patient health and safety. While there have been no confirmed causes of the relocating of patients and an injury or harm resulting from it, I would not be surprised if that were the case.

You may hear in the news often that the United States infrastructure is aging. Bridges, roadways, and power grids are all weakening and coming under fire from analysts. This includes hospital power generators and electric systems. The backup power system at this hospital—and many others—is quite out of date and old.

This is a troubling proposition considering that most hospitals have extremely new, expensive, and powerful equipment which are now rendered useless. Even worse, any emergency procedures going on would be stopped mid-operation because of the power outage. This is scary! And while they hospital certainly would cancel any elective surgeries during the storm, and likely try to prevent any unnecessary emergency surgeries, the trauma department is still open and most likely swamped in an emergency like this!

An accounting firm focusing on the economic impact of storms found that one in twenty hospitals nationwide are unprepared for power disruptions. This may actually result in more than $1 million in lost revenue!

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