Water and heat issues plague Brooklyn hospitals

January 9, 2014 Heather Chin
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The below-freezing cold snap in the region led to several of the borough’s major hospitals experiencing plumbing issues this week.

A water main break at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) on Wednesday, January 8 required the “temporary diversion of ambulances” away from the hospital beginning at around 8:15 p.m., said hospital owner SUNY Downstate Medical Center in a statement.

Laboratory services were also affected, but according to SUNY Downstate, maintenance crews were soon on-site “conducting necessary repair work so the facility can once again begin receiving ambulances as soon as possible.”

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Ambulance service resumed shortly after 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 9, following FDNY permission to take LICH’s Emergency Department “off of diversion status,” according to Ronald Najman, director of communications and special projects for SUNY Downstate.

The Cobble Hill hospital also sits at the center of an ongoing dispute over whether it will close and be replaced by luxury condos, a full-service medical center, or some combination of the two.

Water issues also plagued Maimonides Medical Center in Borough Park, with a single water pipe bursting at 8:25 p.m. inside an ambulance bay, which sits partially indoors inside the emergency room.

Maimonides reported that no patient services were affected, with ambulances temporarily diverted to nearby Coney Island Hospital, Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park, and New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope while the bay was being repaired.

The burst pipe was repaired within three hours, said Eileen Tynion, a spokesperson for Maimonides. “We were on diversion for only 90 minutes because at 10 p.m., we began receiving ambulances at a side entrance on 48th Street,” she said. “Everything was completely back to normal by 11:30 p.m.”

Meanwhile, over at Interfaith Medical Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, the heating system failed in some portions of the state hospital, which is currently in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and has only been allotted enough funds to stay open through March 7.

Over Tuesday, January 7 and Wednesday, January 8, water pipes froze and burst, but since the same air system handles heating and cooling, heat got knocked out in some areas.

The most affected areas included two behavioral care units, pediatrics and a portion of the Intensive Care Unit, said a spokesperson, who noted that the ER was also a bit “chilly” and one operating room is still out of service.

However, the spokesperson stated that they “are pretty much back on track,” with the maintenance/environmental team getting the water and heat flowing again, and the administrative and medical teams moving patients and ensuring that everyone was not in danger.

Over Tuesday, January 7 and Wednesday, January 8, patients reported that there was no heat and they had to bundle up in coats and blankets to try and stay warm.

According to an Interfaith spokesperson, the problem was fixed by late Wednesday afternoon.

Many of Brooklyn’s hospitals have been open for decades with varying degrees of infrastructure upgrades. Mayor Bill de Blasio has made the strengthening of the Brooklyn hospital and healthcare system a focal point of his policy goals.

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