Healthcare providers on the East Coast spent the weekend preparing for Hurricane Sandy, with hospitals canceling elective surgeries and discharging patients to free up beds.
The storm, which was at Category 1 strength as of Sunday afternoon, is expected to make landfall in the mid-Atlantic states by Monday night, bringing with the potential for severe flooding, downed trees and power losses, particularly in coastal areas.
Facilities up and down the East Coast added weekend appointments at dialysis clinics and asked employees to prepare to work beyond their shifts as they brought in back-up power generators and prepared extra sleeping areas for staff.
In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Sunday ordered mandatory evacuations of all residents in low-lying areas along the water, flagged as Zone A, as the city also moved to suspend public transportation services starting Sunday night and closed public schools the following day.
“We will not be in general evacuating patients in the hospitals and the chronic care facilities in Zone A, although we are in the process of evacuating a small hospital in downtown Manhattan,” Bloomberg said during a press conference. “Teams from the city's health department are at these facilities making sure their emergency generators are working and that they have back-up fuel supplies.
“Yesterday these facilities were also ordered to increase staffing, and they have. Patients are also being moved to higher floors where they should be safer in case of flooding, and all of them have discharged patients that don't really require their services to reduce the number of patients they have to take care of.”