Case #2064.0

Surviving the Surge: New York City Hospitals Respond to Superstorm Sandy

Publication Date: May 23, 2016
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This case explores the experiences of three Manhattan-based hospitals during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Beginning with an overview of how the hospitals prepared in the months and days leading up to the storm, it focuses primarily on decisions made by each institution, as Sandy approached, about whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate hundreds of medically fragile patients -- the former strategy running the risk of exposing individuals to dangerous and life-threatening conditions, the latter being an especially complex and difficult process, not without its own dangers. Ultimately, each of the three hospitals profiled in the case took a different approach, informed by their differing perceptions of risk and other unique circumstances. The case illustrates the very difficult trade-offs hospital administrators and local and state public health authorities grappled with as Sandy bore down on New York and vividly depicts the ramifications of these decisions, with the storm ultimately inflicting serious damage on Manhattan and across much of the surrounding region.

Learning Objective:
The case prompts readers to consider the difficult decisions public health officials and hospital administers face when confronted by an emergency that could seriously threaten the well being of medical patients. It raises questions about crisis decision-making, the ways in which prior experiences shape attitudes and actions, and the extent to which organizations should prepare for a potential disaster in the face of significant unknowns and budget pressures, among other considerations.

Other Details

Case Author:
David W. Giles
Faculty Lead:
Arnold M. Howitt
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States
Funding Source:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and sponsored in conjunction with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials