By Trudy Whitman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Advance planning and dedicated staff allowed University Hospital of Brooklyn at Long Island College Hospital to not only care for their own patients but to accept ventilator-dependent patients from the Hopkins Center, a nursing home in Boerum Hill.
On the Friday before the storm, staff members were informed that they would need to remain at the hospital until relieved.
“All hospital workers are considered essential workers, even those (like me) who do not deliver patient care,” wrote Zipporah Dvash, who heads the public affairs department at the hospital, in response to an email inquiry sent by this newspaper. “We didn’t have an issue with physician attendance, and as most of our resident physicians live across the street, we’re in good shape.”
To prepare for the storm, the hospital stocked up on linen and enough food to feed both patients and staff. All elective surgery was canceled, of course, and the ambulatory care building at 349 Henry Street was closed. Medical personnel there helped in other areas of the hospital.
According to Dvash, “vans and ambulances were active in problem-solving.” When a group of six homeless men showed up in the emergency department, they were piled into a van that was dispatched to find shelters that would accept them. And an ambulance was sent to collect paramedics who wanted to get to work but had no means of transportation.
For personnel, it wasn’t the Ritz, but the hospital did its best to make everyone comfortable. Dvash was busy much of the time doing room assignments. On Tuesday, October 30, she wrote that when empty patient rooms ran out the night before, pop-up dorms were created in the physical and occupational therapy gyms.
"I know this has been said before,” Dvash continued in the email, “but we really are grateful for staff. There are dozens and dozens of men and women who have been here since Sunday. They have the same family and property issues as anyone else, but they took care of them as best they could before the storm and then came to the hospital for the duration.”