Hurricane Irene Forces Brooklyn Hospitals, Nursing Homes to Evacuate

NEW YORK – As Hurricane Irene approaches, Brooklyn residents are preparing for mass evacuations, as hospitals and nursing homes have already begun moving patients to safer areas of the city.

The New York City government has categorized areas of Brooklyn into how much risk is posed by the hurricane, with “Zone A” being the highest. A total of five hospitals and eight nursing homes are in Zone A and those facilities are contacting families of patients and working with the NYC Office of Emergency Management to move their residents into safer areas.

Finding proper locations and helping patients adjust to the changes in a medical environment are among the challenges in moving thousands of people in need of medical assistance.

“The biggest problem is finding space,” Marika Granville, spokesperson for the Shorefront Geriatric Center in Coney Island, Brooklyn, told The Christian Post.

“We are reaching out to families of residents to see who’s available and working with the OEM to find suitable locations,” she said.

Maxine Simson, spokesperson for the Menorah Home and Hospital for the Aged in Brooklyn, which began evacuations this morning, told CP that due to the volume of patients being evacuated, some are being moved to all parts of the New York metropolitan area, including the Bronx.

The movement could be difficult for geriatric patients.

“Any kind of change can be traumatic,” she said. “But we’re taking every precaution to ease the transition,” adding that medications and medical equipment needed for travel are being provided to travel with each patient.

For medical hospitals, the evacuations have forced changes in care. Coney Island Hospital has rescheduled elective surgeries, limited emergency care rooms, and sent home patients deemed healthy enough, NY1 reported.

"A lot of people are getting angry,” said Adil Khan, one of the discharged patients. “A lot of people aren't getting the treatment they're probably used to.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered that hospitals and nursing homes in the Zone A area be evacuated by 8 p.m. tonight.