KIPS BAY — Bellevue is back.
The hospital, which was shuttered during Hurricane Sandy, fully reopened for the first time since the storm on Thursday, restoring full ambulance and trauma services and reopening all its 828 inpatient beds, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation announced.
The hospital was evacuated on Oct. 31 when it lost power in the aftermath of the superstorm, with staff eventually carrying patients down darkened stairs with the help of the National Guard after conditions there became untenable.
Bellevue reopened its non-emergency services late last year, but was unable to fully reopen its emergency room until Thursday, referring trauma patients to St. Luke's and Mount Sinai hospitals among others and leaving much of lower Manhattan without a nearby trauma center.
“After three months of not having full trauma services for lower Manhattan, now we’re back in the game,” said Steven Alexander, Bellevue's chief operating officer. “Our area hospitals have been somewhat overwhelmed taking care of the patients that normally got care at Bellevue, in particular for trauma — so we’re happy to be able to provide that service to the community.”
The hospital is still working to restore a few of its outpatient clinics, such as the chemotherapy clinic and the cancer-specialty clinic, which have been relocated to other HHC facilities. Those are expected to return to Bellevue on Feb. 19, Alexander said.
When the storm hit, the hospital’s basement, which contained over 250 pieces of equipment, was flooded by millions of gallons of water, HHC said.
Bellevue reopened several primary care clinics, the 24-hour walk-in urgent care, and outpatient pharmacy services on Nov. 19. On Dec. 19, the hospital resumed its emergency department in limited capacity and began receiving ambulances for non-critical cases two weeks later.
“The damage has all been resolved, and all the hospital’s utilities, including the emergency backups, are in place,” Alexander said.
To protect itself from future disasters, much of the critical equipment, such as the electrical switching gear, has been relocated out of the basement to the first floor.
“There are many other systems that were repaired in the basement in order to allow us to have this aggressive reopening date, but we have plans for relocating some of those major systems to upper floors in the near future,” Alexander said.