Monday, September 15, 2014

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Metropolitan Hospital Struggles To Handle Influx Of Displaced Patients

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When Bellevue Hospital lost generator power two days after Hurricane Sandy and had to evacuate 500 patients, many of them landed at Metropolitan Hospital 50 blocks uptown. The hospital is now using all of its resources to try and help its new patients. NY1's Bobby Cuza has the story.

It's been a chaotic scene at Metropolitan Hospital.

“We basically used every single inch of this emergency room that you could possibly use," said Dr. Carlos Meletiche, the deputy director of emergency medicine at Metropolitan Hospital. "I mean, stretchers down the hallway, to the left, to the right. Wherever there was space, there was probably a patient or a stretcher.”

With many downtown hospitals crippled by Sandy, Metropolitan absorbed much of the extra load.

In the days after Sandy, it opened two hospital units that were previously closed to create 30 new beds. It also turned another unused space into a walk-in clinic. Around 300 patients a day were showing up.

"That was 300 new patients not previously Metropolitan patients," Chief Nurse Executive Lillian Diaz said. "These were all Bellevue patients that were following up with clinic visits.”

The walk-in clinic is closed now but the impact from Sandy continues. There have been days where the emergency room deals with nearly twice the normal volume.

“In the month of November we’ve had multiple days where we’ve actually seen an additional hundred patients coming through the emergency room,” Meletiche said.

Located at First Avenue and 97th Street, Metropolitan did lose power during the storm, but managed to continue operating with the help of backup generators.”

But other hospitals weren’t so lucky.

NYU Langone -- which was forced to evacuate during the storm -- and Coney Island Hospital are still not fully back up and running.

Metropolitan has managed the extra demand, but not without problems, especially crowding.

“It also eventually correlates somewhat into longer patient waits, unfortunately, to get upstairs, potentially,” Meletiche said.

The overflow at Metropolitan continues. While Bellevue has begun offering some outpatient services, it won’t be fully operational until February.

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