Why Did NYU Langone's Generators Fail During Hurricane Sandy?

NYU Langone Medical Center is still uncertain as to why its backup power generators failed Monday evening, prompting the evacuation of 215 patients in the midst of Hurricane Sandy's surge, according to a Time report, and the event has triggered questions over what hospitals must do when disaster precautions and planning go askew.

In a statement, NYU Langone said the evacuations were due to "the severity of Hurricane Sandy and the higher-than-expected storm surge," and the hospital was not alone in its surprise. "It's been an unprecedented situation that has required an unprecedented response from the whole tri-state health care system," Jim Mandler, assistant vice president for public affairs for New York City-based Continnum Health Partners, said in the report.

Patients were evacuated by firefighters and medical staff, many of whom were forced to climb several flights of stairs as the elevator shafts and basement reportedly flooded with 10 to 12 feet of water. One NYU Langone official called the flooding "unprecedented," according to the report.

The flooding may have caused the generator to fail, but some sources have said the generator was not in the best condition to begin with. Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group and an NYU Langone board member, said the medical center's infrastructure is "somewhat old," and backup generators are "not state-of-the-art," according to a Bloomberg report.

Mr. Cohn said the hospital is in the middle of a $3 billion renovation to modernize the hospital facility and ensure "we would have backup power forever," according to the report.

NYU Langone transferred its most critical patients to other facilities late Monday evening and continued its evacuation into Tuesday morning. Patients were sent to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center, St. Luke's Hospital, Roosevelt Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Mount Sinai Hospital. NYU Langone was still without telephone, email or Internet access yesterday.

Coincidentally, Kenneth Langone — the hospital's chairman and namesake — was recovering from pneumonia at the hospital and was one of the patients evacuated Monday evening. "The backup generators failed, it's that simple, but the story here is the magnificence of the effort of all of our people and what they did," Mr. Langone said in a Bloomberg report. "Just think of the effort to bring down 200 and some patients and they did it, and they did it all night long."

More Articles on Hospitals and Hurricane Sandy:

6 Scariest Issues in Healthcare Right Now
NYU Langone Medical Center Evacuates as Hurricane Floods 7 Hospital Buildings
Hospitals Cancel Services, Add Staff in Preparation for Hurricane Sandy


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