Public Health Threats, Struggling Hospitals Loom In Sandy’s Wake
News outlets chronicle a long list of health and health care system problems caused by the superstorm.
NPR: Sandy Leaves Long List Of Health Threats
Public health officials are warning that people in areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy face many risks in the aftermath and are urging people to protect themselves from health threats in the water, air and even their refrigerators. ... "Floodwaters potentially could contain mixtures of a variety of chemicals such as pesticides, paint, gasoline, you know other things for example that you might store in your garage or your basement that might actually get all flooded out," says Tina Tan, the state epidemiologist for the New Jersey Department of Health" (Stein, 11/1).
Politico Pro: Sandy Flood In N.Y. Affecting Medicare Claim Processing
Hurricane Sandy flooded a data center in New York City that a CMS contractor needs to help process Medicare claims for those people who are covered by both the federal program and another health plan, such as employer-sponsored insurance. The shutdown isn't affecting Medicare payments to providers or seniors' benefits, CMS said. The data center at the so-called Coordination of Benefits Contractor, which makes sure Medicare doesn't pay more than its share of such multi-payer claims, has been offline since the storm hit on Monday (Norman, 10/31).
Politico Pro: CMS Eyeing Hospital Lessons From Sandy
The Obama administration is reviewing power failures at hospitals battered by Hurricane Sandy — including NYU's Langone Medical Center — to determine whether requirements for backup power should be updated. ... Hospitals that participate in Medicare must include alternative power sources in their emergency response plans. And most hospitals rely on guidance from two national nonprofits — the Joint Commission and the National Fire Protection Association — which set standards for hospital construction and emergency preparedness (Cheney, 10/31).
Medpage Today: NYC's Bellevue Evacuates 500 Patients
On Tuesday, the hospital transferred its ventilator-dependent patients to other hospitals. ... The hospital did keep its emergency department open, but the city began diverting ambulances to other hospitals yesterday. In order to accommodate this latest evacuation, the New York City health department authorized the activation of "surge capacity plans," which allow hospitals to admit more patients than their authorized capacity (Peck, 10/31).
ProPublica: Why Do Hospital Generators Keep Failing?
New York University Langone Medical Center had to evacuate all 215 of its patients … And this afternoon, Bellevue Hospital in New York City said it is evacuating hundreds of patients because of failing power and deteriorating conditions. "It's Katrina-esque in there," one nurse told ABC News. ... Dr. Arthur Kellermann founded the emergency department at Emory University and headed it from 1999 to 2007. ... In an email interview with ProPublica, Kellermann elaborated: ... "What I find most remarkable about this story is that [more than seven] years after Hurricane Katrina, major hospitals still have critical backup systems like generators in basements that are prone to flooding" (Ornstein, 10/31).
ABC (Video): Sandy’s Blackout Threatens To Destroy Trove Of Medical Research
Hundreds of researchers at the shuttered NYU Langone Medical Center scrambled today to salvage years of research into heart disease, cancer and other diseases as well as priceless lab specimens ... the Manhattan hospital evacuated 300 patients. But cells, tissues and animals used for medical research were left to die in failing refrigerators, freezers and incubators. "It's so horrible, you don't even want to think about it," said Michelle Krogsgaard, a cancer biologist at NYU's Smilow Research Center (Moisse, 10/31).