Two hospitals south of Sunrise Highway in Suffolk began evacuating patients early Friday afternoon in preparation of Hurricane Irene, while another two hospitals in Nassau are awaiting a decision by the county executive on whether to clear out.
"The eastward track of the storm was raising concerns," said Terry Lynam, spokesman for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, of which Southside is a part. "We do have backup power. The question became, do we absolutely have enough backup power? We don't want to take any chances. That was the primary factor."
About 250 patients were being transferred "with appropriate clinical staff" to other North Shore-LIJ hospitals and other facilities, Lynam said.
Earlier in the day, North Shore-LIJ officials said they had no plans to evacuate Southside -- or any of its other Long Island hospitals.
The only other North Shore-LIJ hospital being evacuated is Staten Island University Hospital. In response to an evacuation order from the city and state, the 775-bed hospital was moving its patients to hospitals throughout the city.
In a statement, Good Samaritan said it too was "implementing a phased evacuation of its current patient population to area hospitals." It was not known how many patients were being moved or to where.
Both Long Beach Medical Center and South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside -- the two other Long Island hospitals south of Sunrise Highway and most immediately vulnerable to a hurricane's fury -- said they were awaiting a decision by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano on whether to evacuate. That decision could come Friday, both hospitals and the chief executive's office said.
"Patient information has already been transmitted to the state Department of Health as part of the planning for a possible evacuation," Long Beach Medical Center chief executive Douglas Melzer said in a statement. "We continue to receive updated forecast information so that an appropriate decision can be made as early as possible."
Anyone who wants to check on the condition or location of a patient evacuated from Southside Hospital or Staten Island University Hospital can call 855-IRENE 99 or 855-473-6399.
For patients evacuated from Good Samaritan, call 631-376-3000.