By the Tuesday morning after super storm Sandy, Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH) was at full capacity, having received more than 100 patients. Staten Island University Hospital transporter 13 before the hurricane made landfall and NYU Langone Medical Center evacuated 86 during the full force of the hurricane.
When NYU Langone determined that it would be closed for the immediate future, Lenox Hillbegan issuing “disaster privileges” to NYU physicians. “By providing privileges, we enabled their doctors to continue to treat their patients and offered crucial continuity of care,” said Anthony Antonacci, MD, Medical Director, Lenox Hill Hospital. “Caring for patients is our priority, first and foremost,” he said.
For this massive undertaking, Lenox Hill set up a special credentialing office that was open seven days a week with a staff of 20 to 30. During its first week and a half, the office emergency-credentialed 272 physicians and allied health personnel were emergency credentialed. “In just one day alone, we credentialed 56 doctors, PAs and APNs with disaster privileges” said Marianne Ambookan, RN, MBA, Director, Medical Staff Services for the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
About 160 NYU residents and fellows and more than 700 nurses were validated and credentialed. The process continued daily, with nursing orientation, including four to eight hours of clinical training for each nurse continuing daily by the Nursing Education Department.
“Our entire nursing staff demonstrated unparalleled expertise and professionalism. The patients were our primary focus,” said Phyllis Yezzo, RN, Nurse Executive. “The support that we received from North Shore-LIJ Health System and Maureen White (senior vice president and chief nurse executive) cannot be overstated. We could not have done this alone and appreciate the supplies, equipment and personnel as well as the support we received.”
Life goes on even when a hospital shuts its doors – babies continue to be born, patients continue to need care. By the end of November, Lenox Hill Hospital helped NYU Langone doctors care for approximately 700 patients who needed such care as cardiothoracic surgery and interventional cardiology, oncology and obstetrics, including 122 babies delivered.
“Our nursing and medical staff went above and beyond and many worked long and intense shifts,” said Dennis Connors, Deputy Executive Director, Lenox Hill Hospital. “Our staff’s main focus was on their patients, even when a great many of our staff, in all departments, were experiencing personal and devastating effects of their own as a result of Sandy.”