Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

As Crisis Unfolded, Caregivers Rose to Occasion at Hospitals

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

As Crisis Unfolded, Caregivers Rose to Occasion at Hospitals

Article excerpt

Waves from the Hudson River crashed against the lobby doors at Palisades Medical Center as janitors piled sandbags around every entrance.

While Hurricane Sandy raged outside Monday night, a woman in the hospital gave birth and nurses tried to keep 70 other patients comfortable. The power failed at 9 p.m. and emergency generators came on. But the water kept coming, seeping through the doors and rising knee-high in the ambulance bays.

"We were part of the river at one point," a maintenance man said. "The river was wrapped all around the building."

On Tuesday, all the hospital's patients were evacuated from the muddy and battered North Bergen hospital.

Patients began leaving on four medical buses at 6 a.m. Tuesday. By 11:30 a.m. all patients -- three new mothers, three children and 66 medical-surgical patients, along with seven ventilator-dependent patients from the hospital's long-term care center -- were gone.

"Those who needed the more urgent care transferred first," said Eurice Rojas, a hospital vice president.

Most went to Hackensack University Medical Center, and others to Mountainside Hospital, a Hackensack affiliate in Montclair. A handful went to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

As janitors mopped and cleaned on Tuesday, the building seemed like a ghost town, with soiled sheets, dirty cafeteria trays and blue gloves left behind amid the omnipresent smell of damp carpet and river water. Portions of the parking lot still were underwater.

Palisades wasn't the only hospital to shut down as Sandy pushed a storm surge of epic proportions into waterside areas of North Jersey and the Jersey Shore. Hoboken University Medical Center evacuated 131 patients, according to the state health department. Its patients were transferred by 2 a.m. Sunday, before the storm hit, said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

The storm left many hospitals in North Jersey running on generator power, including Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, St. …

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