11.17.15

SCHUMER: PECONIC BAY MEDICAL CENTER REMAINS VULNERABALE TO FUTURE STORM DAMAGE; URGES FEMA TO AWARD PECONIC BAY MEDICAL CENTER $6.5 MILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDING; MORE THAN 200,000 ARE AT RISK WITHOUT VITAL STORM-PROOFING UPGRADES

PBMC Lacks Necessary Protection Against Powerful Storms Like Superstorm Sandy – Similar Storm Could Disable Power Generators, Damage Roofs and Doors, Putting Patients, Doctors, and Families in Danger 

Schumer Calls for Millions in Federal Hazard Mitigation Funding to Install and Protect Generators, Upgrade Doors and Windows, and Retrofit Roof – Updates Would Greatly Improve the Safety for all the residents of the East End During Storms 

Schumer: Federal Funding Must be Approved; PBMC is Vital to the Health and Safety of Eastern LI Residents

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to approve Peconic Bay Medical Center’s (PBMC) application for hazard mitigation grants that would allow for critical storm and weatherproofing upgrades. The funding would help mitigate against storm-related hazards such as flooding, wind damage, and power interruptions.  By allowing PBMC to purchase and install two additional generators toprovide more emergency power, this proposal eliminates the need to rent scarce emergency generators, as the hospital has previously done during major storms. In addition, the hospital would retrofit its roof and upgrade its doors and windows to those made out of ‘storm-grade’ materials. These measures aim to prevent catastrophic flooding and wind damage, ultimately protecting its patients, staff, and visitors, as well PBMC’s life-saving equipment.

“The Peconic Bay Medical Center serves hundreds of thousands in Eastern Long Island, and this mitigation project is vital to ensuring the safety of the patients, staff, and visitors that pass through its doors every day,” Senator Schumer said. “We need to equip this hospital with the generators and protections it needs to serve our communities, even during the worst of circumstances and so FEMA must swiftly approve this crucial grant.” 

PBMC submitted their application to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), an initiative to encourage long-lasting protections against major natural disasters. PBMC plans to purchase and install two additional generators upon the grant’s approval. In the case of severe power outages, the hospital would no longer have to rely on scarce rental generators. The hospital plans to install protections for these new generators and the three currently in place, against flooding and wind damage. Finally, the hospital would modify its roof to protecting the life-saving equipment housed at PBMC, and upgrade its windows and doors.

“As the largest and most comprehensive healthcare facility on the East End, PBMC plays a unique and critically important role during regional emergencies.  The FEMA HMGP program will ensure that PBMC can continue to meet the health and safety needs of the nearly 200,00 men, women and children who rely us every day and even more so in the event of disasters,” stated Andrew Mitchell, PBMC’s president and CEO. 

Peconic Bay Medical Center is a 200-bed hospital serving Eastern Suffolk County and the surrounding area on Long Island and is the hospital of refuge for the East End. In addition to having  the East End’s largest Emergency Department, PBMC is a NYS designated stroke center and has been established by the CDC to store special regional supplies in the event of certain emergencies. Power and structural failures during a natural disaster could potentially force thousands of people to be without life-saving, nearby medical care.

During Superstorm Sandy, Peconic Bay Medical Center received numerous  patients evacuated from a compromised East End hospital and provided portable emergency power to another hospital.  PBMC was also designated by the Town of Riverhead as a special needs shelter for evacuated residents with medicalneeds during Sandy as well as tropical storm Irene. Though PBMC itself was able to stay open during the storm, the increasing rates of major natural disasters reminiscent of the 1938 hurricane that completely devastated the East End necessitate significant upgrades to prevent discontinuity of care and dangerous evacuations. A power outage or flooding at PBMC would lead to overwhelming patient evacuations, requiring patients, families, and medical professionals to travel over 30 miles in extremely dangerous conditions.

FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program provides funding under Section 406 of the Stafford Act, the federal disaster law that supplies aid to states and localities to implement long-term resiliency measures after a major disaster. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Normally, without these grants, FEMA will only provide enough funds for a locality to rebuild using the same specifications as the original structure.

A copy of the letter to FEMA is included below:

Dear Administrator Fugate,

I write in support of the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation’s application for $6.4 million in funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP). This federal funding would help the Peconic Bay Medical Center (PBMC) with significant upgrades to its emergency power infrastructure, as well as increase the resiliency of the facility, protecting it from flood and wind damage in the event of major future storms.

PBMC houses 200 beds and serves more than 220,000 Eastern Long Island residents. Around 30,000 patients are treated in the Emergency Center every year and rely on the hospital for its high level of care and support. Being on Eastern Long Island, Peconic Bay Medical Center is at high risk for storm related damage. Flooding, wind damage, and other hazards threaten to interrupt the hospital’s ability to provide medical care, especially in the ER and OR. PBMC serves as a receiving facility for the other two hospitals on the East End of Long Island; during Superstorm Sandy, thirteen patients were evacuated to Peconic Bay Medical Center. If PBMC were shut down due to a power outage or flooding, patients would have to be moved over thirty miles to the nearest hospital.

The requested funds would be used to make improvements to the hospital’s emergency energy sources, as well as improve the resiliency of the roof, doors, and windows. If awarded this grant, PBMC would install two new generators, ending the need for emergency rentals. The hospital would also protect the new generators and their existing three generators against flooding and wind damage. Finally, within their HMGP proposal, the hospital would upgrade the doors, windows, and roofing to withstand storm conditions and better protect its patients, visitors, and staff. This funding would help PBMC protect and care for their community, and protect against future storms.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important proposal. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.

Sincerely,

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

 

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