VA Hospital's Broken Air Conditioner Leaves Patients Sweating

By Gustavo Solis on June 28, 2013 2:29pm 

 After weeks without air conditioning at Manhattan's VA Hospital, things may finally cool down on Friday, officials said.
After weeks without air conditioning at Manhattan's VA Hospital, things may finally cool down on Friday, officials said.
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DNAinfo/Gustavo Solis

KIPS BAY — Patients at Manhattan’s VA Medical Center can’t escape this summer's heat, even when they're indoors.

At least four floors of the hospital at 23rd Street and First Avenue were left without air conditioning for several weeks after part of the system broke in early June, hospital staffers and patients said. Although some of the air conditioning was restored on Thursday, the fifth floor — which houses the urology and podiatry clinics — was still a heat trap, patients said.

“I told the doctor that it’s not good for the patients,” said Angel Morales Santos, 51, who accompanied his uncle to a neurology appointment on Thursday. “The doctor said, ‘I know, that’s why I’m trying to get you out as fast as possible.’”

Several patients leaving the hospital Thursday said the fifth floor was stuffy and uncomfortable, left them dripping in sweat and had a strange chemical odor. A hospital employee told DNAinfo New York the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh floors had all been without air conditioning for weeks.

VA spokeswoman Jennifer Sammartino confirmed that the air conditioning problems were caused by three broken coils that needed to be replaced. The parts were ordered as soon as hospital staff noticed the problem in early June, but delays from the manufacturer have prevented repairs, Sammartino said Friday morning.

The parts were expected to arrive on Friday, she added.

Staff placed fans in some of the areas where the air conditioning wasn't working, but they were no match for the heat wave, patients said.

"The fans did not work very well," said Americo Santos, 85, who went in for a cancer checkup Thursday. "It is very hot in there."

The hospital, which was closed for four months because of Hurricane Sandy damage, reopened in March.

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