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Tuesday, July 7, 2015
An ark amid stormy seas
(Page 2 of 3)
Scott Brinton/Herald
Geltman treated two canine patients in All Creatures’ playroom last Friday. The facility’s examination rooms had to be dismantled to clean out and disinfect the hospital, where four feet of sewage backed up during Sandy.

Surveying the damage

With massive plastic tarps and sandbags, Gelfand, 57, and his partner, Dr. Wayne Geltman, 47, of Hewlett, managed to hold back the floodwaters that rushed through the neighborhood the night of the storm. The trouble was the four feet of sewage that backed up from a pump house across the street into the hospital, covering the 5,000-square-foot clinic in brown fecal matter.

“It was quite a stench,” said Gelfand, who earned his veterinary degree from Iowa State University, started work as a veterinarian in 1983 and rented out the All Creatures building from 1987 to 1996 before buying it.

When Geltman arrived at the hospital two days after the storm, he said, “it didn’t look that bad” from the outside. The All Creatures sign above the entrance was shattered, but otherwise the front façade appeared unscathed.

Inside it was a different story. “There was mud and sewage and sand and dog food everywhere,” said Geltman, who received his veterinary degree from the University of Florida and started work at All Creatures in 1995. “It was almost surreal. I would never have expected to see that. We never had any flooding, maybe just a little water. It was really a shock. It took a while for the reality, the devastation, to set in.”

Fortunately, the doctors had spent the day before the storm evacuating the nine dogs and five cats that were boarders or hospitalized at the clinic to higher ground at a Malverne animal hospital.

With the help of contractors, the doctors went to work disinfecting their facility with bleach and fungicide. On the west side of the building, where animals are normally boarded, they washed down the plastic walls and cement floors. But the east side of the hospital was harder to clean. There, walls and floors had to be ripped out and discarded, along with X-ray machines, examination tables, refrigerators used to store medications — virtually everything except records, which were stored digitally and backed up.

Getting back on their feet

“It’s been hard. It’s been very hard,” said Gelfand. “Our clients have been very supportive. Our staff has been very supportive.”

Comments

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chargirllbny

I've known Dr. Gelfand since he was riding around in his RV in 1983 and he would come to your home to treat your animals. He's an amazing veteniarian and human being and has treated all of my pets (and they have been many) for the last near 30 years. The Dr. Geltman and staff are extrodinary and truly dedicated to caring for your pets in the community. They have been there for us and we will be there for them. I'm not surprised they will be coming back better and stronger. I'm sure that there will be repercussions of this disaster felt for years to come and they will be there to care for us. I don't know if I would trust another vet. Hope to see things back to normal soon.

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