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Surviving Sandy - Mary Rose '10

Surviving Sandy - Mary Rose '10
Mary Rose ’10, a registered nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, N.Y., helped evacuate patients for nearly 21 hours during Hurricane Sandy.

One Tiring Shift

The first time Mary Rose ’10 heard about the impending storm everyone now knows on a first-name basis she was attending a Halloween party at her sister Georgia’s Hoboken, N.J., apartment with nearly 15 other Scranton alumni.

Forty-eight hours later, Rose – a registered nurse at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, N.Y. – was helping evacuate an entire floor at the center, including the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and her own general pediatrics department.

Located a block off the East River, the medical center eventually took on more than 14 feet of water, causing enough damage to close parts of the facility for 73 days. Before the storm’s arrival, Rose prepped during her normal 12-hour shift, relocating her pediatrics department to a more secure location on the center’s campus. As her shift concluded, she planned to ride out the storm in the hospital with her fellow staffers when they were alerted to a power failure in their main building, necessitating more evacuations. 

For the next few hours, doctors, nurses and staff prepped NICU and PICU patients, many weighing as few as two pounds, for the nine-flight walk down the stairs to waiting ambulances scheduled for area hospitals. With the power out, elevators were of no use.

One premature infant after another was moved, including a 2-plus-pound baby by Rose, her four fellow nurses and a manager. Down the narrow stairwell, with a security guard clearing the way and a doctor spotting them, the nurses carried the baby and five pumps attached to IVs. Without the necessary room, Rose held her pump above her head the entire trip.

“I did wonder to myself, ‘Why am I not freaking out right now?’” recalls Rose. “But everybody was so calm. Yes, it was a bit chaotic, but it was a controlled chaos. We all knew what we had to do. We train so much for disaster situations like this.”

Once the NICU and PICU patients were transported, Rose and her staff evacuated her generic patients, who were relocated earlier in the day. 

More than 21 hours after her shift began, Rose wrapped up her day, sleeping onsite in an evacuated building. She woke up three hours later to travel home, unaware she wouldn’t return to work at the center for two-plus months.

“The whole day I was going on adrenaline. When I woke up though, I felt like I had died,” she recalls.

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