KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Hurricane Sandy’s Nursing Home Nightmare

News organizations continued to report on how Hurricane Sandy affected N.J. and N.Y. medical facilities.

The New York Times: Nursing Home Is Faulted Over Care After Storm
Amid the worst hurricane to hit New York City in nearly 80 years, the home, the Promenade Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, failed to provide the most basic care to its patients, according to interviews with five employees, federal, city and hospital officials, and shelter directors. ... Cold, thirst, fear: The situation grew so dire that the next evening, as the vestiges of the storm blew across the peninsula, ambulances arrived, evacuated the nearly 200 patients over several hours and deposited them in emergency shelters in the city. ... Some family members are still desperately searching for their loved ones, with no help from Promenade (Powell and Fink, 11/9).

The Associated Press: Sick, Frail Struggle Most In Storm's Aftermath
The storm didn't just knock out electricity and destroy property when it came ashore in places like the Far Rockaway section of Queens. It disrupted the fragile support networks that allowed the neighborhood's frailest residents to get by.  Here, the catastrophe has closed pharmacies, kept home care aids from getting to elderly clients and made getting around in a wheelchair impossible. The city has recorded at least two deaths of older men in darkened buildings (Caruso, 11/10).

Reuters: US Northeast Digs Out From Snow, Gas Rationing Expands
A week after Sandy, Doctors Without Borders established temporary emergency clinics in the hard-hit Rockaways - a barrier island in Queens facing the Atlantic Ocean - to tend to residents of high-rises, which still lacked power and heat and were left isolated by the storm. "I don't think any of us expected to see this level of lacking access to health care," said Lucy Doyle, who specializes in internal medicine at New York's Bellevue Hospital (Trotta and Respaut, 11/9). 

The Jersey Journal/NJ.com: Hoboken University Medical Center Will Reopen Full 6 a.m. Monday
Hoboken University Medical Center will reopen fully on Monday morning, 13 days after massive flooding from Hurricane Sandy forced the medical facility to shut its doors. The hospital opened up its emergency room as an urgent-care center a few days after the Oct. 29 storm, but otherwise has been entirely shut to the public (McDonald, 11/10).

The Economist: Making It Through The Storm
Each new disaster tends to surprise firms that thought they had good plans in place. Hospitals in New York that had moved their back-up generators above ground nonetheless lost power during Sandy because they had failed to put fuel and pumps where floods could not reach. Running disaster-readiness drills regularly, it turns out, is a common-sense idea practised all too rarely (11/10). 

The New York Times: A Flooded Mess That Was a Medical Gem
NYU Langone, with its combination of clinical, research and academic facilities, may have been the New York City hospital that was most devastated by Hurricane Sandy. What’s next is a spectacularly expensive cleanup. Dr. Robert I. Grossman, dean and chief executive of NYU Langone, looking pale and weary — as if he were, indeed, struggling to hold back the FUD — estimated that the storm could cost the hospital $700 million to $1 billion. His estimate included cleanup, rebuilding, lost revenue, interrupted research projects and the cost of paying employees not to work (Hartocollis, 11/9).

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