Bellevue Hospital, Coney Island Hospital and the NYU Langone Medical Center's Tisch Hospital also sustained damage that forced patient evacuations and lengthy closures.
Patients and equipment were moved to other VA locations across New York City during rebuilding. Some patients delayed elective surgeries because of limited capacity and are now expected to keep the hospital busy, Parauda said. Others with mental illness who waited until the Manhattan hospital reopened have returned.
Employees spent last week conducting mock surgeries to prepare to reopen the operating rooms, she said. The VA's Manhattan hospital is a regional surgical referral center for the health system. Outpatient services at the hospital began in March.
Work continues to reengineer the hospital to better withstand storms and flooding.
Electrical equipment, fire alarm systems, water pumps and medical air and gasses that were submerged during Sandy will be relocated to higher floors, though temporary utilities have not yet been moved. “It would take too long to relocate them to an upper floor immediately,” Parauda said.
Construction will begin next week to move primary and specialty care from flood-prone floors to the hospital's ninth floor. The sixth floor will house an MRI and sterile supplies that had been in areas that flooded.
Architects and engineers are reviewing options and scenarios, she said, including whether to raise the height of a planned flood wall. “Two years from now, we'll be very different in footprint and layout.”
But the flood wall won't be ready by June, the start of Atlantic hurricane season. “We're moving as quickly as we can to build the seawall,” she said. “Can I protect all of the infrastructure right now? Not completely. But I do know how to get out of harm's way.” The hospital safely evacuated patients before the storm. “We do have a track record, and we can do it successfully,” she said.
Follow Melanie Evans on Twitter: @MHmevans