Funding urged for Good Samaritan Hospital generators

Sen. Charles Schumer and Bishop William Murphy called on the federal government on April 28, 2014, to approve about $21 million for power generators at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center in West Islip to help it weather another storm like superstorm Sandy. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

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Sen. Charles Schumer and Bishop William Murphy called Monday on the federal government to approve close to $21 million for Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center to install new generators in case of another Sandy-like storm.

On April 11, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the state had recommended to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that $128 million go for 10 hazard mitigation projects, including the one for the West Islip hospital and Our Lady of Consolation Nursing & Rehabilatative Care Center next door, both part of Catholic Health Services.

The grants will primarily be funded through FEMA, which must approve the state's recommendations.

"We call on FEMA to approve the more than $20 million and to do it quickly," Schumer said at a news conference outside the hospital.

"The federal hazard mitigation program aims to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters, and Catholic Health Services' application fits that to a T," the Democratic senator said.

Murphy, the spiritual leader of the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, praised Schumer's commitment to helping the hospital and nursing home and said he looked "forward to the day when we can turn the ground" for the project.

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In response to a query about the status of the project, FEMA spokesman Michael Meenan said: "FEMA works very closely with its partner New York State to review these projects and to make sure they go forth smoothly."

The $20.98 million proposal calls for three elevated and connected generators that would give the hospital redundant power and upgraded electrical infrastructure. It also includes a study on flood-control measures. The project is expected to take about four years, the hospital said.

During superstorm Sandy, the 537-bed hospital and 450-bed nursing home -- both close to the Great South Bay -- lost electricity for 32 hours and had to rely on seven unconnected generators on the ground level, some of them more than 25 years old, said Richard Bie, assistant vice president of facility management at Good Samaritan.

Bie said the generators provided continuous power, but the experience was harrowing.

"It was like flying without a parachute," he said.

Nancy Simmons, chief administrative officer at Good Samaritan, said the project was "extremely important."

"We are so vulnerable to wind and rain," she said.

Sister Marilyn Breen, chief administrative officer at the nursing home, agreed. "It means we'll be able to shelter in place."

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