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FEMA pledges at least $1.6 billion to aid Sandy-damaged public hospitals

FEMA Funds to Include $923M for Coney Island Hospital

November 6, 2014 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Bill de Blasio announced that FEMA pledged more Sandy money to Brooklyn. AP photo
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Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer announced on Thursday that the city has secured a commitment of at least $1.6 billion in funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to repair and protect the city’s public hospitals damaged during Superstorm Sandy.

The allocation — the second largest FEMA award ever and the largest award under FEMA’s 428 program — will advance the city’s comprehensive, five-borough resiliency plan and fund improvements at four New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) facilities: Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan and Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island.

The package will include reimbursement for repairs to HHC facilities for damages incurred during the storm, as well as funds for mitigation projects that will protect the hospitals from the impact of future extreme weather. It is in addition to the $142 million HHC already received from FEMA for emergency stabilization measures, partial repairs and temporary flood barriers.

“Few services are as critical as our hospitals during extreme weather. This unprecedented investment will make four key public hospitals much more resilient next time they need to be,” said de Blasio. 

“This historic, over $1.6 billion federal investment will provide a massive shot of adrenaline for New York City’s public hospitals, and their physical and financial recovery from Superstorm Sandy,” said Schumer. “Smart recovery and resiliency work at New York’s great public hospitals, which serve millions each day, is exactly what we had in mind when crafting the Sandy relief bill, and I’m thrilled to have helped deliver this federal funding.” 

The FEMA funds will cover $923 million for Coney Island Hospital, including reimbursement for repairs already made to the hospital’s basement, first floor and electrical systems. It also includes construction of a new resilient critical services building that will house an Emergency Department on the second floor, plus critical medical services such as x-ray, CAT scan, MRI, pharmacy and labs.

“The prognosis for Coney Island Hospital’s future has never looked better, thanks to the efforts of Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer, and New York’s Congressional delegation in securing $923 million in needed recovery and resiliency funds,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Vital mechanical services, such as emergency power generators, heating and cooling systems, and water pumps will also be installed in the new building. The hospital will also build a new 1,720-foot flood wall that will protect critical services on the current part of the campus to the level of a 500-year flood. 

Coney Island Hospital was forced to close on Oct. 30, 2012, after Sandy’s floodwaters inundated its basement and also entered its first floor, severely damaging its emergency department, imaging services and numerous public and administrative areas. Two days after the storm, the hospital opened a 24/7 urgent care center and a pharmacy distribution center, where patients could fill their maintenance prescriptions. By the end of January, they re-opened all primary care and most specialty clinics in their original space, re-opened some med-surgical beds and began receiving ambulances again through the city’s 911 service. By February, the hospital’s Tower Building had re-opened, along with most of its inpatient beds and imaging and laboratory services.

Coney Island has undergone intensive renovations to its basement and first floor, repairing walls, replacing equipment, and, where possible, relocating vital electrical systems to higher elevations and out of flood areas. The hospital has also acquired temporary flood barrier systems that can be erected in advance of a storm around its emergency department, main entrances, and around its generator facility, which is located in a separate building in the hospital’s parking lot. 

“Not only must we repair damages from the storm, we must do all that we can to minimize future impacts to public health facilities like this vital southern Brooklyn institution that serves thousands of people,” said Councilmember Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Recovery & Resiliency. “We can’t afford having Coney Island Hospital and others lose power and shut down emergency room access, when so many in our vulnerable residents rely on our public hospitals for critical and life-saving services. I appreciate the Mayor, Senator and Congressman for their leadership and partnership in ensuring our City hospitals get what they rightfully deserve to rebuild stronger than ever.”

—Information from the Office of the Mayor

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