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Emergency Rooms See Influx Of Patients As Some Storm-Affected Hospitals Remain Closed

Beth Israel Medical Center Emergency Room Dec. 4, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

Beth Israel Medical Center Emergency Room Dec. 4, 2012 (credit: Marla Diamond/WCBS 880)

CBS New York (con't)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Some Manhattan hospitals have picked up the slack in seeing emergency room patients, as the city’s public Bellevue Hospital remains closed with damage from superstorm Sandy.

It would be an understatement to say the emergency room at Beth Israel Medical Center in the East Village is bursting at the seams.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reports

“Our volume was about 320 patients and yesterday we saw an estimated 475,” emergency room director John Samuels told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond. “Since the storm, our volume has been up about 23, 25 percent.”

Samuels said the hospital has gotten creative, utilizing extra space to accommodate the extra patients.

“We’re in a small conference room, we’ve used that as a waiting room,” Samuels said. “We also brought in an additional 11 providers, additional nurses, additional social workers.”

Further north at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, president Bob Kelly said they’ve had to get creative to deal with the influx of patients.

“We have had to cordon off some places in the hospital and one of the main lobbies of the hospital, we’ve actually put some barriers up,” Kelly told Diamond.

With the closure of Bellevue, both centers are dealing with an influx of complex cases like psychiatric patients and those in police custody.

Kelly said he is worried about the potential for a public health crisis due to overcrowding.

“Quite frankly, I think everybody in the city is concerned that if there was a flu epidemic or something like that, how would the system handle that. We’re sort of trying to make sure that we’re prepared for any eventuality that comes our way,” Kelly told Diamond.

Waits for hospital beds have been measured not in hours but in days at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, which has received overflow from the temporarily shuttered Coney Island Hospital.

Hospital officials said Bellevue’s emergency room could be ready for limited services later this month, but the hospital will not fully reopen until February.

Have you noticed longer than usual wait times at emergency rooms in the city? Share your comments below…