A backup power system failed at one of the New York City’s premier medical centers on Monday night, forcing the evacuation of all patients to nearby hospitals amid the storm’s strong gusts, officials said.
The medical center, NYU Langone Medical Center, a sprawling complex in the low 30s near the East River, began transporting all 215 patients at the hospital to other facilities on Monday evening, They were still being transported to other nearby hospitals, including Sloan Kettering and Mt. Sinai, early Tuesday morning, a spokeswoman for the hospital said.
“They had to evacuate everybody,” said the spokeswoman, Lorinda Klein, who said the main communications systems at NYU Langone — phones and e-mail — were down. She could not say what had caused the failure of the hospital’s emergency systems, which power critical care units there.
NYU Langone said in a statement that the evacuations were “due to the severity of Hurricane Sandy and the higher than expected storm surge.” It added: “We are having intermittent telephone access issues and for this reason the receiving hospital will notify families of their relatives arrival.”
By 11 p.m., dozens of ambulances from various companies across the city were lined up in front of hospital extending down First Avenue and West on 30th Street.
On the ground floor of the hospital, medical staff members, firefighters and emergency medical technicians moved about as patients on gurneys — at least one in an oxygen mask — were wheeled from the building and lifted into the ambulances outside.
A spokeswoman for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, on the Upper East Side, said at least 26 patients were being taken there.
Mount Sinai Medical Center issued a statement describing joint efforts to evacuate patients “in the areas of adult critical care, pediatric critical care, neonatal intensive care and obstetrics.” It said that the patients were “being transported to Mount Sinai via ambulance and will be accompanied by N.Y.U. Langone staff and physicians."
The trouble at NYU Langone began Monday evening as top hospital officials began to detail in e-mails the spread of large-scale power failures in critical areas, including the emergency room, the transplant unit and labor and delivery. The emergency systems did not kick in, the hospital said.
Where necessary, patients were connected to battery-operated monitors and pumps, hospital employees reported, and the hospital appeared to have no emergency or land-line phones on some units.