November 12th, 2012
10:50 PM ET

Hospital helps Sandy victims but pays a price

CNN's Deb Feyerick visited St. Johns Episcopal Hospital in Queens, New York, which took in displaced Sandy victims but is unable to recoup the costs - nearly $3 million.

"EMS was lined up with stretchers out the ambulance door. They couldn't even get into the Emergency Room. It was horrible," says Sharon Behar, the vice president of the hospital.

At 14 feet above sea level, elderly and disabled residents in the Rockaways knew they would be safe in the hospital after they were forced to evacuate. The needs varied with some patients requiring electricity for their medical devices, a stable location, or prescription refills.

The reason the hospital may suffer a financial setback is because Medicare doesn't cover anyone who doesn't qualify to be there, meaning if they are "medically able to be discharged."

Chief Operating Officer Rick Brown says patients need to meet what Medicare calls "acute care criteria" in order for St. Johns to get paid. On top of that, Brown was stunned to learn that a New York City hotline alerted people that they could find shelter at the hospital.

The chaplain, Cecily Broderick Guerra, doesn't believe they can survive the extra costs without the help of donors and the government changing the reimbursement policy.

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Filed under: Hurricane Sandy
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