03.20.15

SCHUMER, GILLIBRAND, LOWEY URGE FEMA TO EXPEDITE OVER $5 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING FOR CRITICAL POWER GRID IMPROVEMENTS AT NORTHERN WESTCHESTER HOSPITAL; HOSPITAL LOST POWER FOR THREE DAYS DURING SUPERSTORM SANDY – UPGRADES WILL HELP HOSPITAL BETTER WITHSTAND FUTURE STORMS

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

 

Schumer, Gillibrand, Lowey Push FEMA For Funding That Would Enable Hospital to Rebuild Power System With Three Separate Switches – Current System Has One, Outdated Switch, Which Violates Safety Codes

 

Schumer, Gillibrand, Lowey: Northern Westchester Residents Rely On This Hospital To Function in Good Times & Bad; It Should Get FEMA Funding ASAP

 

Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Nita Lowey called on FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate to expedite Northern Westchester Hospital’s application for federal funding to undertake critical infrastructure improvements that will help the hospital withstand future storms. These funds, which would be awarded as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), would enable the hospital to strengthen its power grid. Improvements are necessary because during Superstorm Sandy, the hospital lost power for 70 hours due to having an outdated power system that relies on one switch to keep the electricity running, which is a violation of safety codes.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. If the hospital’s electrical infrastructure fails again, it could leave local residents without emergency care. If awarded federal funding, the Hospital would completely modernize its system, creating three separate power branches that would help it withstand the impact of future storms. The total project cost is $7,227,511; if approved, FEMA will cover $5,420,633 of the cost.

“Thousands of residents rely on Northern Westchester Hospital and we must use the lessons of Superstorm Sandy to ensure it is better prepared to handle the next storm. It is scary to think that one switch stands between this hospital being able to provide emergency care, which is why FEMA should approve their application for funding right away so that we can eliminate the nightmare scenario of leaving over 350,000 residents without any emergency care,” said Senator Schumer. “It is not enough to simply rebuild and repair; we must also prepare ourselves for the next storm and the next potential disaster.”

“The outage at Northern Westchester Hospital during Superstorm Sandy was a wakeup call,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “FEMA should immediately approve the hospital’s application for funding so the thousands of New Yorkers who rely on the hospital can have the peace of mind knowing that it will be ready for an emergency and can withstand the next storm.”

“There is nothing more important than the safety and health of our residents,” said Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Westchester-Rockland. “I will continue to work with Senators Gillibrand and Schumer to provide Northern Westchester Hospital with the equipment and resources necessary to maintain vital emergency services.”

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 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. 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 letter to FEMA is included below:

 

Dear Administrator Fugate,

 

We write in support of the application submitted by Northern Westchester 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 Northern Westchester 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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