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NYC hospital staff stayed with patients too ill to move during Irene

CNN, August 31, 2011

When New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg instructed five hospitals to evacuate their patients from Hurricane Irene's path, one replied it couldn't follow his order. Administrators from New York University-Langone Medical Center explained that six patients in the intensive care unit were so sick that moving them might kill them, and so the mayor's office gave permission to keep them in the hospital throughout the storm. It then fell to Elaine Rowinski, nurse manager of the intensive care unit, to find seven nurses willing to stay at the hospital, right in the hurricane's predicted path and just 100 yards from the East River, which many feared would overflow. It turned out she had nothing to worry about. "I could have had 20 nurses if I'd needed them," she said. "That's how many called me up to volunteer." Rowinski stayed at the hospital all weekend as the doctors and nurses who also stayed listened to the wind and the rain through the boarded-up windows."I had no qualms about staying, no fears at all," she said. "We train for these disasters."