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Southampton Hospital Powers Through Storm, Outages

Hospital staffers spent nights sleeping in offices during Superstorm Sandy.

Whenever LIPA power cut out at Southampton Hospital during and after Superstorm Sandy this week, the hospital's generator kicked in automatically, and the lights and critical medical equipment stayed on.

And whenever the generator failed, a back-up generator took over.

"In a hospital, you have to have a lot of contingency plans, and that's something I think hospitals do really well in a situations like this," said Southampton Hospital spokeswoman Marsha Kenny on Friday.

Nothing is done on the fly during a big weather event. Everything is all planned out well in advance, no matter what circumstances arise.

"We have periodic meetings when we go through all the procedures," Kenny said. "All departments have a plan in place and a checklist we go through."

No patients had to be evacuated; in fact, some patients who would normally be discharged have stuck around for extended stays because they don't have electricity at home to power necessary medical equipment.

Kenny said that technology and power are not enough to get through a storm and keep providing care to patients. It takes people.

"We needs hands on care by human beings," Kenny said.  To that end, many hospital staffers slept overnight on office floors so they would not be stuck at home due to closed roads and other hazards when they were needed at the hospital.

"Healthcare workers are very much like that," she said. "That's in their blood to help people."

Now that the storm is passed and the roads are safer, workers have stopped camping out at the hospital. But with the gas shortage on Long Island that came to a head Thursday evening, as lines formed and many stations used up their inventories, new concerns arise.

"Our biggest concern now is getting gasoline for cars," Kenny said, pointing out that 60 percent of the workers live west of the hospital, with long commutes.

Of all of the hospital's satellite facilities, Kenny said that only the Westhampton Primary Care Center and went without power, but they both have electricity back now.

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