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Mount Sinai reports on providing health services after Sandy

11/5/2012, 2:13 p.m.

(New York, November 5, 2012)-- A week after so-called Superstorm Sandy devastated the New York City area, The Mount Sinai Medical Center continues to operate above capacity and is anticipating that it may take weeks before the number of inpatients drops to regular levels.

"As one of the largest hospitals in New York City, we usually operate at approximately 95 percent capacity," said Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and CEO of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "But with this crisis, we have taken care of many additional patients, including those with serious and complex conditions." Mount Sinai also activated its emergency command center and staffed it with 70 people that rotated shifts during the week, Dr. Davis added.

During the storm and its aftermath, Mount Sinai received over 100 patients from area hospitals that had power outages and damage during the storm. Immediately after Hurricane Irene in 2011, the hospital received 36 patients who were evacuated from NYU Langone Medical Center, making Sandy the institution's largest disaster-relief effort.

"Our entire staff served heroically during and after the worst storm New York City has ever seen," said Erin DuPree, MD, Chief Medical Officer of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Physicians, nurses, support and ancillary staff all worked side-by-side to handle the tremendous influx of patients."

Throughout Hurricane Sandy, the Nursing Department provided care for all patients. "Many RNs came to work on Sunday planning to stay for the duration of the storm," said Carol Porter, DNP, RN, Chief Nursing Officer and Senior Vice President of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. "Our nurses along with the entire health care team worked together and many stayed overnight." Mount Sinai is an American Nursing Association Magnet-recognized Nursing Department, and Porter is also the Edgar M. Cullman, Senior Chair of the Department of Nursing and Associate Dean of Nursing Research and Education, Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

According to Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and CEO, The Mount Sinai Medical Center, additional staff was on duty in every area.

* The Engineering Department set up six interdisciplinary rapid-response teams on Monday, October 29, and immediately put them on alternating schedules. Mount Sinai's IT staff worked to develop extra precautions to safeguard patient records.

* Security personnel also worked in 12-hour shifts, doubled on-duty staff from 30 to 60 people per shift, and added extra shuttle bus drivers to enable employees to get to and from work after public transportation was disrupted in and around the city.

* In anticipation of the storm, on Sunday, October 28, Mount Sinai's food service department brought in 140 people who stayed on campus overnight. Ordinarily, food service staff numbers 135 people during the day.

* Facilities staff also worked around the clock to provide overnight accommodations for all staff and physicians. At any one time, there were 1,200 people sleeping at the hospital each night throughout the week.

* The admitting department worked closely with social services to appropriately and safely discharge patients and ensure that there were enough inpatient beds to meet the needs of patients who were transferred from other hospitals. On Friday, November 2, in a matter of hours, facilities also helped transform an ambulatory cancer center into an inpatient unit.