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Challenges of Nurses’ Deployment to Other New York City Hospitals in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy


On October 29, 2012, a 12-ft storm surge generated by Hurricane Sandy necessitated evacuation and temporary closure of three New York City hospitals including NYU Langone Medical Center (NYULMC). NYULMC nurses participated in the evacuation, and 71 % were subsequently deployed to area hospitals to address patient surge for periods from a few days up to 2 months when NYULMC reopened. This mixed methods study explored nurses’ experience in the immediate disaster and the subsequent deployment. More than 50 % of deployed nurse participants reported the experience to be extremely or very stressful. Deployed nurses encountered practice challenges related to working in an unfamiliar environment, limited orientation, legal concerns about clinical assignments. They experienced psychosocial challenges associated with the intense experience of the evacuation, uncertainty about future employment, and the increased demands of managing the deployment. Findings provide data to inform national and regional policies to support nurses in future deployments.

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Funding for the study was provided by New York University College of Dentistry Pilot Research Developmental Award. We are grateful to NYULMC nurses for sharing their experiences, to Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Kimberly Glassman PhD, RN for her support facilitating access to nurses and for the technical assistance from her staff with the online survey and to Farida Fatehi for her assistance with data analysis.There is no grant number as this was funded by the university.

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Correspondence to Nancy VanDevanter.

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VanDevanter, N., Kovner, C.T., Raveis, V.H. et al. Challenges of Nurses’ Deployment to Other New York City Hospitals in the Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. J Urban Health 91, 603–614 (2014).

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  • Hurricane Sandy nurses’ deployment-related practice-based challenges
  • Psychological distress
  • Regional and national disaster response policy implications