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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Responding to Hurricane Sandy

The Hospital Preparedness Program Helps Put Plans into Action

The plans, programs and equipment that HPP worked with New York health officials to put in place as part of New York's overall public health and medical preparedness activities were a vital part of the response to Hurricane Sandy.  These resources helped people in many parts of New York, including Staten Island, Redhook, Brooklyn, Rockaway and Queens, get the care that the needed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  HPP staff and funding helped New York put existing plans into action; manage volunteer deployment; track available hospital beds; and provide other vital services.
 
  • Medical Volunteer Deployment:  As part of overall hurricane public health and medical preparedness, HPP funding was used to train volunteers.  HPP funding was also used to maintain a robust registry of credentialed volunteers who were trained and stood ready to respond should an event occur.  During Hurricane Sandy, New York’s Emergency System of Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) system, ServNY, deployed 1,123 medical and mental health volunteers to special medical needs shelters and restoration centers.
  • Life-saving and Life-sustaining Equipment:  HPP funds purchased equipment that was used to improve hospitals’ ability to respond to a hurricane, including surge tents, a defibrillator, portable ventilators, burn carts, medical cots, communications tools, head lamps, computers, smart boards, and other equipment used to support the hospital command centers.
  • Healthcare Evacuation Center: Through their work with the city Hospital Evacuation Center, HPP staff supported the safe transfer for many of the 2,950 patients and residents from hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities who were moved to alternate care facilities and locations.   HPP funded staff also helped evacuated patients return once it was safe for them to do so.
  • Sheltering in Place:  The NYC Shelter in Place Assessment Project began in 2009 and focused on identifying hospitals’ ability to shelter in place for critical care patients during an extreme weather event.  This assessment enabled hospitals to make better decisions during Hurricane Sandy with respect to sheltering in place for medically fragile patients.
  • Hospital Bed Availability:  The Health Emergency Response Data System (HERDS) was used throughout Hurricane Sandy to capture bed availability data for the response.   Before Hurricane Sandy struck, HPP funds were used by hospitals to conduct drills on their ability to rapidly respond to a request for bed availability data.  HPP funding has also been used to support the automatic data uploading to the federal HavBed system. 
  • Improving Access to Pre-Hospital Provider Services:  Pre-hospital provider response included non-municipal ambulances that were integral to the successful movement of patients during the evacuation.  HPP funding has been used to support the enhancement of the communications and identification systems between the municipal and non-municipal ambulance services. 
  • Notification Systems:  Primary Care Centers were helped to alleviate pressure on hospital emergency departments by handling certain kinds of patient care.  HPP funded a robust notification system so that the Primary Care Emergency Preparedness Network (PCEPN) was able to provide daily situational awareness to the primary care centers. PCEPN also worked with the New York State Department of Health to allocate mobile vans to impacted areas to deliver primary care services.
  • Emergency Preparedness Coordinators:  Up to the minute communications and coordination helps hospitals allocate resources effectively and provide the best possible patient care.  Each hospital has HPP-funded Emergency Preparedness Coordinators who are designated as he primary points of contact for situational awareness during the event.
All of these resources worked together to help make New York more resilient to and better able to recover from the health impacts of Hurricane Sandy. 
 

  • This page last reviewed: November 20, 2013