Friday, December 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Damaged and Disrupted New York's Mental Health System

New York City’s mental health system took a big hit from Hurricane Sandy, according to a report in the New York Times this week. The huge storm surge left several of the city's largest psychiatric hospitals unusable, disrupted outpatient services, and flooded scores of nursing homes and adult-care homes where many people with mental illness had found housing of last resort, according to the Times.

After Bellevue Hospital Center, NYU Medical Center, and the Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center were shuttered in the wake of the storm, other hospitals in the city were inundated by a sharp rise in psychiatric emergencies. For instance, Beth Israel Medical Center, recorded a 69 percent spike in psychiatric emergency room cases in November, with its inpatient slots overflowing capacity. Instead of admitting more than 1 out of 3 such cases, as it did the year prior, it admitted only one1 out of 4 of the 691 emergency arrivals this November. Capacity was so overtaxed that ambulances had to be diverted to other hospitals 15 times in the month, almost double the rate of last year, according to the Times.

Psychiatric News reported on the response of psychiatrists to the crisis caused by Hurricane Sandy. Read that report here.

(Image: Guido Amrein, Switzerland/


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