NYU Hospital Defends Failed Generators That Forced Evacuation During Hurricane Sandy

10/30/2012 06:21 pm ET

The failed backup power generators that led to the evacuation of the New York University Langone Medical Center in Manhattan are adequate, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"Our generators are fully compliant with all state and federal regulations and, using good prudence, we test them all the time as we have to do anyway," Lisa Greiner told HuffPost. More than 200 patients, including 20 infants from the neonatal intensive care unit, were relocated to other hospitals during Hurricane Sandy on Monday night and Tuesday morning.

The chairman of the hospital's board, who was one of the patients evacuated Monday night, said he and NYU believed the generators would hold up through the storm, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday. “Do you think they’d have kept me in there if they thought I was going to be unsafe?” Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone told Bloomberg News.

One of the hospital's trustees gave a different account to Bloomberg TV. Gary Cohn, the president of Goldman Sachs Group, said the generators "are not state-of-the-art" and that the hospital's board was aware of problems. “The infrastructure at NYU is somewhat old,” he said on Bloomberg TV.

Greiner wouldn't respond to Cohn's statement and said NYU can't answer why the generators failed. "We're assessing what happened. We don't know yet. That's why an assessment's being done," she said. Greiner wouldn't say when more information would be available.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to leave the NYU hospital open during the storm, even though it's located inside an evacuation zone and sits alongside the East River. When Hurricane Irene approached the city last year, Bloomberg shuttered the hospital in advance.

On Monday, the NYU hospital canceled non-emergency services for Monday and Tuesday and moved hundreds of patients to other facilities in advance.

Bloomberg told reporters Sunday that city inspectors would check hospitals' generators and promised no public emergency rooms in New York would close.

"The one thing that we had not counted on, New York University's hospital back-up power -- in spite of them making sure, ensuring us that it's been tested -- stopped working," Bloomberg said Monday.

All of the patients in the hospital Monday night were moved to other New York medical facilities, including Lenox Hill Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Mount Sinai and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center. All of patients evacuated from the NYU hospital, Coney Island Hospital, New York Downtown Hospital or the Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System survived being relocated, Bloomberg said Tuesday.

Hurricane Sandy

CONVERSATIONS