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Bellevue Hospital, New York City's Flagship Facility, Starts To Evacuate As Generators Fail

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BELLEVUE HOSPITAL EVACUATE
A patient is taken to a waiting medical transport vehicle outside Bellevue Hospital in New York Wednesday Oct. 31, 2012. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says Bellevue Hospital is evacuating 500 patients due to storm damage. | AP

One of the more dramatic New York City rescue stories this week was the emergency evacuation of NYU's Langone Medical Center on Monday night. Now it seems another of the city's vital hospitals is about to go offline.

Officials say Bellevue Hospital is now evacuating hundreds of patients and staff. The center has tried to keep its doors open over the last couple of days, despite proper lighting or computers.

Bellevue is the flagship facility of New York City's 11 public hospital system, and it's also the oldest. Located near the East River, in the blackout zone of Lower Manhattan, the hospital had been operating on generators since Monday, but the 17 million gallons of water that flooded the basement has made conditions extremely difficult, according to the New York Daily News.

"The health department has authorized 'surge capacity plans,' hospital officials said. Appeals for other hospitals to take Bellevue patients have been marked 'URGENT' and 'ASAP,'" the news outlet reports.

The National Guard tried to help, flying fuel to the roof of the building, but workers entering the swamped basement realized the damage was worse than expected and decided to evacuate.

According to NBC, people were carrying babies down staircases on Tuesday. Lighting was described as intermittent, and there was strong odor of fuel.

"It's Katrina-esque in there," a nurse told ABC News.

A spokesman at Mount Sinai Medical Center told ABC that when Mount Sinai could no longer reach Bellevue, it sent its own medical team to assist. The team found two patients in need of serious help. The hospital is preparing to receive other patients as well.

The Associated Press reports the city's Fire Department is assisting with the evacuation.

According to NPR, NYU-Downtown and the Manhattan Veterans Affairs Hospital are closed, and Coney Island Hospital had been evacuated.

At a press conference on Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the hospital situation was bad, but it could have been worse.

"We've had significant challenges at many of our hospitals and health care facilities," he said. "Fortunately, as of now there has been no storm-related fatalities at any them."

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