Officials: Hospital Personnel Went Above And Beyond To Rescue, Move Patients

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There have been so many stories of fear, bravery and determination following Superstorm Sandy, perhaps none so dramatic as those from several New York City hospitals forced to evacuate in the middle of the storm.

As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported Tuesday, those hospitals are struggling to reopen.

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Three weeks after Sandy, Coney Island Hospital features the type of staggering damage to a once-busy medical center that merely suggests what courageous staffers and vulnerable patients endured the night the storm came crashing in.

“There’s no words that could tell you. You could probably never believe what happened if you weren’t here to see it,” Chief Nursing Officer Terry Mancher told CBS 2’s Langford.

Inside the ER there was one incredible rescue on the night of the storm.

“We had to evacuate 28 patients from the emergency room as the water was rising and I have to say the emergency room personnel acted heroically,” medical officer Dr. John Maese said.

The ground floor of the main building of the hospital is devastated, forcing the removal of sheet rock from most of the walls. The damage is surpassed only by what happened to the basement. It was completely inundated by the storm surge. The hospital won’t fully re-open until the spring.

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“We are working to bring a portion of the emergency department up by the end of this month to allow us to provide limited emergency services here at Coney Island Hospital,” said Alan Aviles, President of the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation.

The slow but steady return is much the same at sister hospital Bellevue, where the National Guard assisted in the evacuation of more than 700 patients after the storm. Limited emergency services are set re-open at Bellevue by the middle of December, officials said.

The stories of the rescues from these big NYC hospitals have already become the stuff of medical legend, like the banging on the front door at Coney Island Hospital in the middle of the raging storm.

“We pried the doors open and there were three emergency rescue officers with a raft that had three adults and two dogs. [They] floated into the first floor of the hospital before they disembarked,” Aviles said.

It was as powerful as any hospital drama you’ll ever see on television.

CBS 2 checked with NYU Medical Center, the scene of a harrowing evacuation during the storm. The hospital was unable to provide an update on how the medical center is recovering.

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