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Preparing Hospitals for Evacuation: VA New York and Superstorm Sandy

Project Lead: Aram Dobalian, Ph.D., J.D.

The number of hospitals and nursing homes that evacuated as a result of devastating hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods has risen markedly over the last 30 years. Since 2005, five VA medical centers (VAMCs) were evacuated because of extreme weather events. Two of these facilities were completely destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Nevertheless, there is limited research within and outside VA on the topic of health care facility evacuations.

This project is an in-depth case study of the evacuations of the VA New York Harbor Healthcare System Manhattan VAMC because of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy. It focuses on the:

  • Process of hospital evacuation
  • Impact of a prior evacuation, exercises, and disaster planning on a subsequent evacuation process

Findings and importance

VEMEC is developing a process map that outlines the operational components of hospital evacuation, and identifies key decision points for use by hospital administrators. By learning about the issues and problems associated with evacuating the Manhattan VAMC, VEMEC will identify best practices for hospital evacuation.

This project builds on VEMEC's prior work examining the evacuation of nursing homes. Collectively, these studies support VEMEC's goal of improving this critical disaster response capability for all health care facilities.