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Why Did NYU Langone's Emergency Generators Fail?

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 1, 2012

The agency published a Sentinel Event Alert in 2006, specifically addressing emergency electrical power system failures.

No one wants to beat up a hospital when they're down, of course, especially when the transfers have not resulted in obvious or apparent harm, even amid the chaos.

Other patient evacuations
And it's important to note that at least two other hospitals, Bellevue Hospital just next door to NYU Langone, and Long Beach Memorial Hospital, have evacuated patients to other hospitals due to similar infrastructure concerns, although under less hurried circumstances.

Hospital officials are well aware of quake destruction of Northridge Hospital in California, tornado damage to St. John's Hospital in Joplin, Missouri, and the deadly devastation from Hurricane Katrina to Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans.

Ironically, Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot whose philanthropy in 2008 resulted in this large NYU medical facility changing its name to carry his, was being treated as a patient in the hospital at the time.

In an interview with Bloomberg News yesterday, Langone said: "We believed the machines would work, and we believed everything we were told about the scope and size of the storm. Do you think they’d have kept me in there if they thought I was going to be unsafe?"


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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?