Hurricane Sandy forces hospitals to seek out blood supplies

Residents from the Gradell nursing facility in Long

Residents from the Gradell nursing facility in Long Beach are evacuated. (Oct. 28, 2012) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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As some of the region's hospitals evacuated patients or called in extra staff, they also ramped up on supplies of blood, implementing contingency plans to keep the inventory flowing during the storm.

"Everyone started getting ahead of the curve last week and began making the necessary preparations," said Pat Smith, spokesman for the New York Blood Center in Manhattan, which provides blood and blood products to 200 hospitals in the region.

Smith said even though blood was rushed to hospitals last week, more is being sought, and blood drives are still planned Monday despite the storm.

On Long Island, New York Blood Center affiliates in Melville, Rockville Centre, Riverhead and Lake Success are keeping their doors open through the day and/or evening, weather permitting.

All blood types are being sought, Smith said.

"They need an average of 2,000 donations a day to maintain the supply," he said. "And when you anticipate an emergency like this, you can't close your doors."

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Having boosted the number of units sent to hospitals in recent days ensures that an appropriate blood supply is available in the event of storm-related injuries, Smith said.

Donors with appointments at Long Island blood centers are encouraged to keep them, if possible. Potential donors without appointments are welcome, blood center officials said.

Hospitals also help bolster their supplies by collecting blood from donors.

Some hospitals also evacuated patients or called in staff.

About 80 patients from Long Beach Hospital were evacuated to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow. Critically ill patients at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore were taken to alternative North Shore-LIJ hospitals Saturday night.


While the North Shore-LIJ hospitals were scheduled to remain open during the storm, clinical appointments were canceled and the hospitals were discharging as many nonacute-care patients as possible to free space in case other patients need to be evacuated there in the coming days.

NUMC officials warned staff to be prepared to work beyond normal shifts, and said cots would be made available.

With Nicholas Spangler

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