Even before Hurricane Sandy hit Staten Island with a vengeance, healthcare in the borough was in trouble. The Staten Island Advance called the health statistics “sobering.” Yet with only two hospitals (in three sites) for its population of nearly 500,000, Staten Island has just two beds per 1,000 residents. Contrast that to Manhattan’s six.
The hurricane only made matters worse. There’s an increase in pulmonary disease and experts expect long-term increases in cardiac disease and psychiatric illnesses. But there’s no comprehensive monitoring happening of Sandy’s health consequences. “It’s likely to be a lot like 9/11,” worries NYSNA Treasurer Patricia Kane, RN at Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH) and a leader in the recovery effort. “We’ll learn a lot later.”
Staten Island is the only borough in the city without a public hospital. Its few HHC clinics send patients to Coney Island Hospital for care, and sometimes to Bellevue, which is easily two hours away.
But the challenges don’t end there. RUMC is the only hospital on Staten Island that isn’t in Zone 1, a high-risk flood zone. “We need more resources so we can survive a storm better,” says Pat. “We need a public hospital on Staten Island.”