Hospital Workers Unheralded Heroes During Hurricane Irene

The emergency evacuations of low-lying areas in advance of Hurricane Irene might have seemed like an overreaction to those residents who didn’t live in the small pockets of the city pummeled by the winds and rain. But, despite the small scale of the damage, it’s undeniable that the city’s civil servants – firemen and police, city authorities and transit workers – had an organized and authoritative response worthy of recognition. But one group of heroes easily overlooked in the wake of the storm worked diligently, if quietly, to protect the city’s most vulnerable.

As the storm rolled up the east coast, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered the evacuation of hospitals and senior homes in coastal areas – including Coney Island Hospital and numerous homes in Sheepshead Bay – to ensure the continuity of medical care for the sick and elderly. Though the media reported on the patient transfers, those who oversaw the pre-storm scramble, including staff who stayed up ’round the clock to care for patients and the decision-makers who took extra precautions with medicine and other care, have gone unpraised. Until now. has produced a blow-by-blow account of the evacuations, from the moment the orders were handed down to the point where patients could return to their designated homes and hospitals. The report highlights the efficiency of staffs at institutions including Coney Island Hospital in collaborating between departments and hospitals, reaching out to families, and securing proper medical treatment in a scene that could have been chaotic and catastrophic under less-effective leadership.

Hospitals were given just 24 hours to organize staff, review patient needs, and make the move. Coney Island Hospital hit that mark three hours early, according to the article.  Terry Mancher, Coney Island’s Chief Nursing Officer, credits the selfless actions of the staff. “No one said ‘I have to go.’ A lot of the nurses just said ‘Just tell me where I need to go and I’m there,” Mancher said. “I’m so proud of my staff.”

While the storm might have been a wash, the same can’t be said for the expediency with which our local hospitals and homes rose to the evacuation challenge and helped ease patients’ minds. For that, they deserve a little recognition.

Check out the full article on