Hospitals begin to deal with onslaught of Sandy

( Hurricane Sandy, predicted to be one of the most powerful storms in memory, has forced hospitals up and down the East Coast to prepare for a looming natural disaster.

• Various hospitals and health systems announced the cancellation of elective surgeries and other non-emergency services, including most outpatient care, through Monday and in many cases Tuesday.

• New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday all public hospital EDs in the city would remain open throughout the storm.

• Hoboken (N.J.) University Medical Center evacuated 83 patients to Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Bayonne Medical Center, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, N.J., and Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, N.J., according to a report on the news site

The hospital’s ED was to remain open and staffed, but once triaged, patients would be transferred elsewhere for admission. “The Hoboken University Medical Center is in a low-lying area and we are concerned that a storm surge could knock out power to the facility,” HUMC spokesperson Allyson Miller said, according to the report.

• Long Beach Hospital evacuated 57 patients to Nassau University Medical Center. Meanwhile, the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility accepted 35 evacuated nursing home patients.

NuHealth System, which operates NUMC and AHP, activated its emergency management plan Monday morning. In a news release, the hospital stated that “since our primary obligation is to ensure the safety and well-being of all our patients, nursing staff will be mandated to stay over beyond their normal shift.

“We will deploy our labor pool to assist the nursing department with clerical needs. All residents without assignment will assist on the patient floors. … Medical, pharmaceutical, blood and food supplies are in sufficient quantities at both the hospital and nursing home. Generators are in working condition in the event of loss of power.

“As always, we will do everything humanly possible to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff, patients and visitors.”

• The North Shore-LIJ Health System reaffirmed Sunday that its 16 hospitals will remain open throughout the storm. The only evacuations involve dozens of critically ill patients on ventilators and other mechanical devices at Staten Island University Hospital and Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y.

Both SIUH and Southside are located in low-lying areas and subject to flooding, and both were evacuated during Hurricane Irene last year. North Shore-LIJ ambulances are transporting SIUH vent patients to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y. Impacted patients from Southside were brought to NSUH and LIJ Saturday evening.

• New York Harbor Healthcare System evacuated and closed its Manhattan campus. Staff was asked to contact their supervisors to learn whether their services were needed. Likewise, New York Downtown Hospital announced it had moved all its patients to other hospitals Sunday afternoon. The hospital is not at risk of being flooded, but the nearby electrical grid is vulnerable. With hospital generators running out of power after 42 hours and the possibility of not having access to fuel, the facility decided evacuations were the safest strategy, hospital President Jeffrey Menke said, according to a report by ABC News.

• In coastal New Jersey, which could be one of the hardest-hit areas, AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center said campuses in Atlantic City and Pomona and its satellite ED in Hammonton were ready for the storm. “Both campuses will continue to provide quality care and ensure patients are safe and comfortable,” according to a news release. “Staff are arriving early for shifts and preparing to stay past their shifts as needed.” Visiting hours at the two main campuses were suspended.

ARMC postponed elective procedures and dialysis treatments scheduled for Monday, while the system’s hospice and home care teams “have been working with patients and families since last week to ensure they have the care they need.”

• In the Philadelphia area, Virtua Health Care hospitals planned to remain open with essential staff on clock throughout the storm, according to a report on the news site

“In any emergency, Virtua Health Care employees are prepared to do whatever it takes to care for our community members, and this weather event is no exception,” said Richard P. Miller, president and CEO of the company, according to the report. “Taking care of our patients is our top priority as well as ensuring the safety of our employees.”

Virtua, which has about 8,400 employees, operates hospitals in the New Jersey portion of the Philadelphia tri-state area. All EDs will remain open, and essential staff is on the clock and will be throughout the storm, Virtua spokeswoman Peggy Leone said, according to the report. Conferences are being held hourly to deal with any issues, and command centers are set up at each hospital and at corporate offices, Leone said.