There might not be a thing that would stop a New York City nurse from carrying out our mission – certainly not a hurricane. Last year when Hurricane Sandy came barreling up the East Coast, we were on the job. Thousands of NYSNA members live in the storm’s path: We had worries for our own families and homes. But when duty calls, we don’t falter. No matter what.
The storm ultimately forced the evacuation of two HHC hospitals, Bellevue in Manhattan and Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, and the partial evacuation of Coler on Roosevelt Island. Manhattan VA Hospital and NYU Langone Medical Center also were evacuated. Nurses, other medical staff, and the National Guard helped bring more than 1,200 patients to safety.
Fulfilling our mission
We were tougher than the conditions we faced — helping to carry severely ill patients down as many as 18 flights of stairs, manually working pumps to help newborns breathe, providing life-sustaining care to those in the midst of emergencies as we evacuated them.
The storm inflicted serious damage, scattering hundreds of us across city hospitals as ours were repaired.
No one needs to tell a nurse about stress on the job. We live it daily. Sandy brought a new level of urgency and strain. But there’s nothing like fulfilling our mission when it matters most. New Yorkers need care — and we deliver.
“When the power went out, I wanted to get to work because I knew I was needed. On my way to the hospital, rushing water suddenly overwhelmed my car. I struggled to open the door, slipped out of my coat, and swam to safety. For a minute, I didn’t think I’d make it. I wasn’t trying to do anything heroic, just trying to get to work. The next day, I walked.”
– Roman Polei, RN, Coney Island Hospital