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Hospitals, care facilities evacuate at Hurricane Sandy nears

October 29, 2012
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief, with Patty Sheehan, Contributing Editor
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Monday 3:00 p.m.—The coastal areas along the New Jersy shore and low-lying regions of New York are experiencing high winds, heavy flooding and power outages, and Hurricane Sandy hasn’t even arrived yet.

The lessons learned from Hurricane Irene seem to have prompted better advanced planning by businesses and faster compliance with evacuation orders.

General evacuations began Sunday from Connecticut to southern New Jersey. By Monday, most vulnerable New York hospitals canceled elective surgeries to free up beds for emergencies. New York Downtown Hospital was evacuated completely because of backup power concerns.

Nursing homes and hospitals in New Jersey followed suit. Approximately 900 residents have been evacuated without incident in New Jersey, the American Health Care Association (AHCA) reported. “Our folks were tracking this storm and reaching out to the authorities last week,” said Greg Crist, AHCA’s director of communications. "We feel good about the plans we have in place and our ongoing collaborations with our state and federal partners."

New Jersey Gov. Christie ordered evacuations this morning for the Barrier Islands, closed the Holland Tunnel, and will close the Garden State Parkway in both directions near Woodbridge TWP this afternoon, according to Tweets from the governor’s office (@GovChristie).

An unusual collision of weather fronts will cause Sandy to make a sharp turn toward the west instead of continuing up the east coast. Residents in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia should be preparing now for the possibility of power outages and sustained flooding.

Elderly and disabled individuals in those states, especially those near flood-prone areas, should pack a small bag now in case moving to higher ground becomes necessary. Check on medication and other supplies, pack a spare pair of glasses and don’t forget some fresh water, suggests Linda Fodrini-Johnson, executive director of Eldercare Services, San Francisco, in an article. Those who require refrigeration for medicines also should have a small cooler on hand and should freeze ice-packs or zip-top bags of water in advance.

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