09.18.15

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, LOWEY ANNOUNCE NORTHERN WESTCHESTER HOSPITAL WILL RECEIVE $5.4 MILLION IN FED FUNDING FOR CRITICAL ELECTRICAL SYSTEM IMPROVEMENTS – HOSPITAL’S 45-YEAR-OLD EMERGENCY SYSTEM FAILED DURING SUPERSTORM SANDY & DESPERATELY NEEDS UPGRADES TO BETTER WITHSTAND FUTURE STORMS; FEMA WILL COVER 75% OF COST

Northern Westchester Hospital Serves 350,000 Residents, But is Vulnerable During Major Storms; Hospital’s 45-Year Old Emergency Power System Failed During Superstorm Sandy, Cutting Off Power for 70 Hours & Leaving Doctors & Patients Scrambling – Failure During a Future Storm Could Leave Residents Without Emergency Care 

In March, Schumer, Gillibrand, Lowey Pushed FEMA to Approve Funding That Would Enable Hospital to Rebuild Emergency Power System With Three Separate Switches; Current System Has One, Outdated Switch, Which Violates Safety Codes – Now, $5.4 Million in FEMA Funding Will Help Get Critical Project Underway 

Schumer, Gillibrand, Lowey: NorthernWestchester Residents Rely On This Hospital To Function in Good Times & Bad; And It Will Finally Have The Upgrades It Needs

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Nita Lowey today announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $5.4 million in federal funding for the Northern Westchester Hospital. These funds were allocated through FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), and will enable the hospital to strengthen and increase the reliability of its emergency electrical system. Improvements are necessary because, during Superstorm Sandy, the hospital lost power for 70 hours due to having an outdated system that relies on one switch to keep the electricity running, which is a violation of safety codes. The hospital was able to secure a generator on day three of the outage, providing necessary power until full restoration. However, if the hospital’s electrical infrastructure were to fail again, it could leave local residents without emergency care.

Schumer, Gillibrand and Lowey said this federal funding will help ensure these critical infrastructure improvements are made and will help the hospital better withstand future storms. In March, Schumer, Gillibrand and Lowey called on FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to expedite Northern Westchester Hospital’s application. Today, the Senators and Congresswoman celebrated FEMA’s decision, citing that the funding would finally allow the hospital to completely modernize its system, creating three separate power branches that would help it withstand the impact of future storms as well as two increased capacity generators. The total project cost is $7,227,511; FEMA will cover 75 percent of the cost, at $5,420,633.

“This is great news for the Northern Westchester Hospital and the thousands of patients who rely on it every day for emergency medical care. With this funding, and with the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, this hospital will be able to upgrade their electrical system so it can better withstand future storms,” saidSenator Schumer. “It is scary to think that one switch could mean the difference between being able to provide emergency care and going completely dark. With this $5.4 million, the Hospital will finally be able to overhaul its emergency power system to eliminate the nightmare scenario and better prepare for handling the next storm.”

“This critical FEMA funding will help provide much needed resources to facilitate electrical system improvements at NorthernWestchester Hospital,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Superstorm Sandy devastated our communities and these funds will help secure the hospital, giving peace of mind to the thousands of New Yorkers that it will be ready for an emergency and can withstand the next storm.”

“It’s imperative that our region’s hospitals can provide care when it's needed most. As the Ranking Member of the committee that provided the funds, I’m pleased that FEMA is helping NorthernWestchester Hospital upgrade its equipment, strengthen its power grid, and withstand future adverse weather events. I will continue working with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand as well as local officials to ensure the Lower Hudson Valley’s resiliency needs are met,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey.

Northern Westchester Hospital is a 233 bed facility in a community setting with an extensive staff, including 600 physicians, which serves about 350,000 people in the region on an emergency, inpatient and outpatient basis. Infrastructure failure during a storm would leave residents without any emergency care, which would stretch resources of first responders and the larger disaster response system, with an overwhelming cost to the hospital and community.

During Superstorm Sandy, Northern Westchester Hospital faced a 70-hour electrical grid power loss due to an outdated 45 years old power transfer switch, which is outdated in respect to national and state regulatory code requirements. The hospital has a plan in place to rebuild the emergency power system so that there are three branches with independent switches. With major disasters and power disruptions becoming more common in the region, this improved emergency power system is necessary for the hospital to operate during major weather events.

A copy of the original letter to FEMA is included below:

Dear Administrator Fugate,

We write in support of the application submitted by NorthernWestchester Hospital for funding from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This funding will help provide infrastructure improvements to mitigate the effects of major storms and disasters on the hospital’s critical operations.

In recent years, Northern Westchester Hospital has faced serious threats to the essential health, medical and surgical services they provide to the region. Northern Westchester Hospital is a 233 bed facility in a community setting with an extensive staff, including 600 physicians, which serves about 350,000 people in the region on an emergency, inpatient and outpatient basis. Infrastructure failure during a storm would leave residents without any emergency care, which would stretch resources of first responders and the larger disaster response system, with an overwhelming cost to the hospital and community.

The requested funding will be used to make improvements to the hospital’s disaster response infrastructure and workforce training. In the event of a disaster, it is crucial for this hospital to remain accessible and functioning at maximum capacity to provide services to the community when they are most needed. The hospital’s current emergency power system is 45 years old and relies on one outdated automatic power transfer switch, which violates national and state regulatory code requirements. The hospital has a plan in place to rebuild the emergency power system so that there are three branches with independent switches, as well as Critical Care for essential medical patient equipment, Life Safety with lighting for safe working conditions, and Equipment for non-life threatening injuries. The facility faced a 70 hour electrical grid power loss during Superstorm Sandy with the system fortunately remaining operational until they were able to secure rented generators from another facility. With major disasters and power disruptions becoming more common in the region, this improved emergency power system is necessary for the hospital’s operability during adverse events. This funding will better prepare NorthernWestchester Hospital to protect and respond to the needs of their community.

We ask that you please give this application your full consideration. If you have any questions, or desire further information, please do not hesitate to contact our staff.

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