NYU Langone Medical Center reopened with almost full service Thursday, bringing inpatient care back for the first time since Hurricane Sandy forced the hospital to evacuate all of its patients. Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
They were among the most dramatic images of Hurricane Sandy: more than 300 patients evacuated during the height of the storm after floodwaters knocked out emergency power. Now, after being crippled for weeks, NYU Langone Medical Center is back in business.
"Everyone has tears in their eyes," said Steven Hofstetter, the chief surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Thursday was a homecoming of sorts for hundreds of staff, as the hospital here resumed inpatient services for the first time since the storm, including many surgeries. Virtually all services are expected to be back next month, much earlier than some expected.
"Full services will be opened by the end of January," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney. "That is truly a miracle, given the hurdles that you confronted."
"What has happened is a metaphor for all of New York and New Jersey amid Sandy," said Senator Charles Schumer. "We will come back, we will rebuild, and we’ll be better than before."
Local elected officials have already helped NYU Hospital secure about $150 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but altogether, damages could top $1 billion, counting cleanup, lost equipment, lost revenue and mitigation measures to make sure the damage isn’t repeated.
The one department at NYU Hospital that won’t be reopening anytime soon is the emergency room, which was in the initial stages of a major expansion project when the storm hit.
"Our emergency room was flooded, totally contaminated," said Robert Grossman, the dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center.
In its place, NYU is creating an urgent care center that will accept walk-ins. Officials hope to complete the fully rebuilt emergency room within a year.