Park Slope's hospital lends a helping hand

Disbelief and grief caused havoc for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, But one Park Slope Hospital risked thier own lives before Hurricane Sandy hit to keep thier neighbors safe.

New York Methodist (NYM) a brick building, almost 100 feet above sea level, was left virtually untouched. “Today, we’re thanking our good fortune that the Hospital was unscathed by the storm,” said Mark J. Mundy, the Hospital’s president and CEO.  The Hospital commenced emergency operations at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Staff members who provided direct patient care, support of patient care, and environmental and facilities management at the Hospital reported to work as usual, overnight bags and changes of clothes in tote. Many employees who lived in Manhattan arrived hours before their shifts began due to the impending MTA shutdown. Others climbed aboard shuttle buses that NYM dispatched throughout Brooklyn to bring staff members to work, even as Sandy was poised to strike. The Hospital also took in several patients who had been evacuated from New York Downtown Hospital in the hours before the bridges closed.

In the Emergency Department, staff members were on hand throughout the hurricane as ambulances arrived. In the Labor and Delivery unit, physicians and midwives delivered 11 babies during the height of the storm, including some that were diverted from Manhattan hospitals. Several new mothers reflected on the experience the next day. “There were trees whipping around outside of the delivery room,” said Dana Guttomsgaard, whose son, Benjamin, was born at 7:51 p.m. on Monday evening. “We don’t know how the Hospital is ‘normally,’ but despite the hurricane, it was very, very positive.”
Rebecca Flood, R.N., senior vice president for nursing administration, echoed Ms. Guttomsgaard’s sentiment. “There’s no one person, or even team of people, that I can pinpoint as most deserving of praise. We have almost a thousand nurses working at NYM, and their collective ability to pull together throughout the hurricane was astonishing.”

On Wednesday morning, the mood at NYM was both upbeat and somber. Downed trees still blocked some of Park Slope’s streets. Many of the homes of NYM employees were without power. Several staff members who live in other boroughs were yet to be able to return home. But being able to focus on helping patients was perhaps the best kind of “distraction” from the continual influx of footage filling the airwaves.

“It’s unfair to say that, in our storm response, NYM is somehow unique in New York, because this city and its residents have a phenomenal ability to pull together during the toughest of times,” said Mr. Mundy. “However, it’s very gratifying to see that this Hospital, and its employees, can count themselves among the many who have responded to Hurricane Sandy with determination and unwavering resolve, who are ready to rebuild and recover as Sandy leaves us behind.”