NEW YORK ‚?? Hundreds of elderly and disabled New Yorkers who were hurriedly evacuated from seaside nursing homes and assisted living residences after Superstorm Sandy are still in a grim limbo two months later, sleeping on cots in temporary quarters without such comforts as private bathrooms or even regular changes of clothes.
Their plight can be seen at places like the Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Brooklyn, which was full before the refugees arrived and is now swollen to nearly double its licensed capacity.
For eight weeks, close to 190 patients forced out of the flooded Rockaway Care Center in Queens have been shoehorned into every available space at the 240-bed Bishop Hucles.
Most still didn‚??t have beds last week. Instead, they bunked on rows of narrow, increasingly filthy Red Cross cots in rooms previously used for physical therapy or community activities. More than a dozen slept nightly in the nursing home‚??s tiny chapel.
Amid the overcrowding, a 69-year-old patient left the home unnoticed at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, slipping past security measures intended to keep residents with dementia from wandering off. The facility didn‚??t alert police until 5:18 a.m. She wandered for two days before turning up unhurt at a hospital in another part of Brooklyn, police said.
‚??It feels like a MASH unit here right now,‚?Ě said a staff member. ‚??The circumstance could not be more dire, and people are getting the best possible care we can manage.‚?Ě
More than 6,200 residents and patients were evacuated from 47 nursing and adult care homes as a result of the Oct. 29 storm, according to New York state‚??s Health Department.
Two thirds of those patients left after Sandy had already struck, hustled out of buildings in such a hurry that they were unable to bring belongings or clothing. Some left without identification.
At least six nursing homes and six adult care homes in New York City and Long Island remained closed as of Friday because of storm damage, according to state health officials. Seven other nursing homes had accepted some patients back, but not all.