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Coney Island Hospital slowly recovering

November 20, 2012 2:35:12 PM PST
After Hurricane Sandy, the water was ankle deep along the first floor of Coney Island Hospital.

"This was a lagoon here. Even with sandbags, the water was entering the first floor," Alan Aviles, President of City Health and Hospitals Corporation, said.

The basement of Coney Island Hospital was flooded floor to ceiling - shutting down the entire medical center.

"There were 4 major electrical distribution panels. Two were destroyed," Aviles said.

The wiring, the floors and at least 3 feet of the walls have to be replaced. We received our first look at the extent of the damage.

What was a fully functioning emergency room with 40 beds for patients is now gutted. It's part of an effort to prevent mold and permanent damage and to restore power.

Coney Island Hospital is in one of the hardest hit areas of Brooklyn, but was not told to evacuate before the storm. The emergency generators are outside in a brick building, which officials say can sustain a 12 foot surge. The surge was even higher.

Aviles says there are lessons to be learned.

"This hospital hasn't experienced anything like this in the last hundred years. It does teach us the storms seem to be getting stronger in the northeast and we have to be prepared," he said.

He says hospital officials have discussed moving emergency generators and fuel supplies to even higher levels. No plan yet to make that happen. For now, the hospital will re-open in phases.

Outpatient clinics are open now. The ER will partially open in a couple weeks. The hospital will be fully open for actual emergencies in January.

Coney Island is one of four New York hospitals closed to inpatients three weeks after the storm hit the city last month. The three other medical facilities are New York University Langone Medical Center, the Manhattan VA Medical Center and Bellevue.

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