When Superstorm Sandy hit the Rockaways section of New York, a local hospital quickly became a haven for the area’s most vulnerable victims -- a gracious gesture that’s coming with a crippling cost.
During the storm and its immediate aftermath, St. John’s Episcopal Hospital experienced a 40 percent increase in patients, many of whom were from neighboring nursing homes or needed electricity for respirators and other lifesaving equipment, according to statement released by the hospital. But since many of those critically ill patients didn't qualify for Medicare, the hospital is now left holding a near $3 million bill, an exorbitant one it simply can’t afford, CNN reports.
“There won’t be a way for us to survive this unless there are some gracious angels and federal government and state government come up with a different formula for reimbursement,” Cecily Broderick Guerra, the hospital's pastor, told CNN.com.
The Rockaways –- where 40,000 people lost power and nearly every home was flooded -- was among the hardest hit areas by Superstorm Sandy, DNAinfo.com reports. But St. John's was able to maintain care by using emergency generators, which also led to it being used as a makeshift shelter for desperate residents. The hospital provided food, emergency medications and electricity for cell phones, according to the hospital's statement.
To help offset its mounting debt, the hospital has set up a Hurricane Sandy relief fund.
“The recovery is ongoing but difficult,” the hospital wrote in a statement. The Hospital continues to be at 100 percent capacity, often because there are few places to discharge patients to. Nearby nursing homes and adult homes have been evacuated and are not yet re-opened."
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