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Why Did NYU Langone's Emergency Generators Fail?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 1, 2012

Expect an onslaught of sharp questions for hospital chiefs on why backup generators for 705-bed NYU Langone Medical Center failed on Monday, necessitating a helter-skelter evacuation of fragile patients despite ample warnings of Hurricane Sandy barreling with colossal force toward the Northeast.

"You know, we were assured, we being the city, that the hospitals within Zone A had capacity to get patients on vents (ventilators) out before the storm, stop taking in anything that was not an emergency procedure, and that they had sufficient backup generators," New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn told CNN's Piers Morgan during Tuesday night's broadcast. "That was the representation they made to the city."

"Why didn't that happen at [this] very significant institution?" she asked. "This is not a small neighborhood hospital...I think there are obviously enormous questions that NYU needs to answer."

Moments earlier, Morgan lobbed some of his own hard questions during a testy exchange with Andrew Rubin, NYU Langone's vice president of clinical affairs.

"How could a busy New York hospital have its backup generators fail when it's had a week at least to prepare for what everyone was saying was going to be a storm of huge magnitude?" Morgan asked.

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3 comments on "Why Did NYU Langone's Emergency Generators Fail?"


Tom Lawrence (11/5/2012 at 10:34 AM)
Emergency Power systems seem to nearly always be under-sized, because no one expects that they will really be needed or that the "Worst Case Scenarios" will ever happen...It doesn't cost that much more to do it right, and making the wrong choice will always get you on the evening news....

Alan Falk (11/5/2012 at 1:04 AM)
You won't publish this, but I'd like to comment anyway... The generators failed because it's freaking impossible to create a backup scenario that will protect against ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING that can happen!! Like Fukishima... the power plants should have been on higher ground and maybe should have been designed to withstand tsunamis five times bigger than the one that took them out. But someone, somewhere, had to make an economic choice of how much protection was statistically likely to be needed, as well as how much they could afford... Not to mention that location and sizing of the backup generators might have been better on TOP of the building, but might have been way to expensive for any organization to implement! Enough finger-pointing, blame-gaming and Monday-morning quarterbacking, already! Dumb article.... and too long, too.

Max Caufield (11/2/2012 at 2:57 PM)
Piers Morgan is a real hack but the generator/electronic controls in the basement begs the questions[INVALID]didn't anyone learn anything from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Who puts anything electronic in the basement when you are located right next to an ocean or a river? Aren't you just asking for trouble?