NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A pressing public health concern is making its way into the spotlight just hours before President Barack Obama is to return to New York to get a look at life after Hurricane Sandy.
From Manhattan to Queens, hospitals remained closed Wednesday night while smaller facilities are being forced to pick up the slack. A lack of space at the city’s medical facilities is leaving no room for error.
“I think the implications for the city are much more dramatic,” Josh Vankirk told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan.
In Manhattan, the shadow cast by two temporarily shuttered hospitals has many residents concerned about health care.
Sandy’s flood waters triggered evacuations at Bellevue and at NYU Langone, two hospitals that may not be able to reopen for months. As a result, many patients are being forced to travel for medical care.
“Maybe you’d have to go to Metropolitan Hospital, which is much further uptown, St. Luke’s Roosevelt, Lenox Hill Hospital,” East Side resident Linda Wildman said.
When Sandy caused many New Yorkers to become disconnected from their primary care physicians, hospitals were forced to operate at a higher capacity.
Mount Sinai Hospital took in more than 100 evacuees from Bellevue, and Langone and is functioning fine for now, but with winter approaching some people are left questioning how long that will last.
“What concerns us now is the flu season,” Wayne Keathley said.
Another major concern is money. Rebuilding damaged hospitals could cost more than $1 billion. The city has allocated $300 million for Bellevue and Coney Island hospitals, but neither is expected to be up and running any time soon.
“I mean if I get sick, where do I go?” resident Phil Weiss said.
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