The water came crashing into Long Beach Medical Center’s lower levels so quickly on the night of Oct. 29, that it flooded the facility’s basement from "floor to ceiling" and resembled what hospital officials described as a Hollywood disaster movie.
According to Sharon Player, LBMC’s director of public affairs, three employees nearly died during Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge.
“The storm water and surges we had were very forceful — we almost lost three employees who were in the basement securing an area,” Player said. “The room next to them had a large [air conditioning] unit that was pushed in the by the force of the water and broke the wall. [The water] went from just below [the employee’s] knees to his chest in 30 seconds. They formed a human chain and got themselves up and out.”
The flooding completely damaged the hospital’s basement area, which houses not only the facility’s electrical, heating and mechanical systems, but also its pharmacy, central supply and purchasing departments as well as a family care center. As the repair and damage assessment continues, Player said that it was too early to say when Long Beach Medical Center would be able to fully reopen.
“We’ve ordered new furniture, flooring and carpeting that needs to be replaced once we get the electrical and sheetrock completed,” Player said. “It took four- to five-days to get the water pumped out and they’ve gotten most of the debris out. We still need to empty out the purchasing department and central supply of soggy equipment and boxes. We haven’t given a timeframe on it yet. There is a lot that needs to be done there.”
The Komanoff Center, which sustained less severe damage, is already under repair and is expected to reopen in about six weeks.
In the meantime, the medical center is restoring its emergency operations through a Mobile Satellite Emergency Department (MSED), which is scheduled to open on Wednesday in front of the facility. The unit will be staffed by Long Beach Medical Center’s Emergency Department doctors and nurses.
The arrival of the MSED, Player said, represents the hospital’s first step in “restoring needed healthcare services for community residents following the storm.”