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SIUH CEO talks to CNN about Evacuating Patients

Hurricane Coverage

Source: CNN

August 26, 2011

CROWLEY: At New York Staten Island University Hospital, they have been evacuating patients since last night. Babies first, older patients today. In all, 230 patients have to be moved. Nobody wants a repeat of those horror stories from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when hospitals lost power and people were trapped.

Staten Island University Hospital president and CEO Anthony Ferreri joins us via Skype.

Mr. Ferreri, thank you so much.

Just in terms of sheer logistics, I know it's about 230 patients — to how many hospitals?

ANTHONY FERRERI, PRES. & CEO, STATEN ISLAND UNIV. HOSPITAL: We actually are transferring patients to several hospitals within the North Shore-LIJ Health System. We're part of that system. There are 15 hospitals in the system but we are pretty much narrowing our focus on three to four hospitals.

CROWLEY: So — and these are hospitals within the region but in a zone of safety from Hurricane Irene. I'm wondering — what then happens to new patients? Aren't we now — I think there are some 22 health care facilities being evacuated in New York. Doesn't this crowd the other facilities at a point when a crisis is happening, you have less room in care facilities?

FERRERI: That's an excellent point. What we've done, Staten Island is a community of 500,000 people and as is obvious we're an island. We have two hospitals located on Staten Island. Those two hospitals are part of Staten Island University Hospital. And they are both evacuating, closing.

There is only one other hospital for Staten Island now for 500,000 people, Richmond University Medical Center. The reason we're transferring our patients off of Staten Island is not to put a great burden on Richmond University Medical Center, so that they would be able to care for needs over the next couple of days that we're not taking patients as inpatients. Our emergency rooms will remain open.

CROWLEY: So, your emergency room facilities at your hospital remain open. So you will have health care providers there during the storm.

FERRERI: We won't be accepting them through 911. We will, however, have emergency personnel here to treat people who are walk-ins or brought in by family members.

CROWLEY: Mr. Ferreri, what have you told your health care providers at that hospital to do? Where will they be, the bulk of them, over the next several days? And where do you plan to ride out this storm?

FERRERI: We will go to a much lower level of staffing once the patients removed from this facility and maintain it mostly with facilities, plan ops, maintenance personnel and, of course, emergency personnel and surgeons who will also be available to deal with any emergencies.

I'll be at the hospital myself. We'll be staying close to the situation. There is an evacuation order for the entire area south of Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island. All homes will be evacuated.

So, we're very concerned about all of this. We're concerned for the well-being of our patients, for the people of Staten Island and, of course, for our own employees who also have to deal with these issues.

But we have a strong staff of employees. They've dealt with 9/11. They dealt with the ferry crash of 2003. And we have dedicated employees who are here around the clock.

And what's also interesting about all of this is that in 115 years of existence, this hospital has been around since 1861. This is the first time that this hospital will actually close its doors.

CROWLEY: But, again, you'll remain open for emergencies that come to your door. There will be a skeleton staff there?

FERRERI: Skeleton staff of emergency physicians who will treat, triage and stabilize patients and then transfer patients out.

CROWLEY: Great. Thank you so much, Anthony Ferreri. You have quite a couple of days. I hope that it misses you or that any damage or injuries, of course, are minimal.

The president and CEO of Staten Island University Hospital — thank you so much for joining us.

FERRERI:
Thank you, Candy. It's been my pleasure.

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