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Sandy-Damaged NYU Langone Medical Center Partially Reopens

By Mary Johnson | December 27, 2012 12:44pm

KIPS BAY — A portion of NYU Langone Medical Center reopened Thursday, with many more services expected to come back online by mid-January, hospital officials announced.

Beginning Thursday, the following services will be available: electrophysiology; inpatient and outpatient surgery; interventional radiology; medical and surgical intensive care units; neurosurgery and the neuro intensive care unit; non-invasive cardiology, cardiovascular surgery and cardiovascular catheterization procedures; pediatric ambulatory surgery; and hospital recovery rooms.

The hospital has also reopened its blood bank; its clinical, pathology and microbiology labs; its dialysis services; its pharmacy; its radiology department; and its respiratory therapy. On Thursday morning, about 55 surgeries were already taking place, officials said.

Still, the majority of the hospital services won't be be back up and running until the new year, and the emergency room at NYU will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

The 700-bed hospital has been largely shuttered since Hurricane Sandy hit on Oct. 29, when some 15 million gallons of water flooded the hospital's basement and sub-basement and forced the immediate evacuation of hundreds of patients.

The VA Hospital and Bellevue Hospital, both located just a few blocks south, were also shut down. Bellevue restored limited emergency room services Thursday.

"Destruction was everywhere," said Sen. Charles Schumer, who toured NYU Langone in the days after the storm. "You saw multimillion-dollar machines that had saved thousands of lives totally battered and gone."

But Schumer said Thursday's reopening would send 20,000 workers back to their jobs and would restore care for many patients who rely on the hospital, which is facing a recovery that is expected to cost roughly $1 billion.

"This is a red-letter day for New York because it shows that we will come back," Schumer continued. "This hospital is roaring back. New York is roaring back."

By Jan. 14, the hospital expects to open another chunk of services, including its labor and delivery services, its neonatal intensive care unit, its pediatrics unit and its pediatric intensive care unit.

The emergency room, which sustained severe damage during the storm, is expected to remain closed indefinitely, said Dr. Robert Grossman, dean and CEO of NYU Langone Medical Center.

The hospital plans to continue the expansion of the emergency room, which will triple the size of the ER and was already underway when the storm hit, and hopes to open that facility by the end of the year, Grossman added.

In the interim, NYU Hospital is working to build a 30-bed urgent care center to handle certain walk-in cases. Some construction work is needed to bring that center to life, Grossman explained, and no firm opening date has been set.

But Grossman said the hospital hopes to have the center open soon and to begin accepting some ambulance traffic at some point in the future.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, who attended the reopening announcement Thursday, said the reopening of NYU Hospital will ease patients' minds but also lessen the strain felt by neighboring hospitals in the two months since the storm.

"The demands on other hospital institutions have been overwhelming," Krueger said. "I know in other hospitals around NYU, they are actually jumping up and down to know that NYU is back."

So far, NYU Langone Medical Center has received about $150 million in aid from FEMA, but much more will be needed to replace damaged equipment and restore the full range of services at the hospital.

"This is just the beginning," said Schumer, who is pushing an aid bill through the Senate that includes roughly $1.2 billion earmarked for the hospital. "We have a long way to go to making this hospital whole."