U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand today announced $1,089,855 in federal funding for Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH). The funding is being provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) hazard mitigation grant program. The grant will help fund the elevation of the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems for the Staten Island University Hospital North Campus’ Central Utility Plant. Overall, SIUH applied for $23 million in hazard mitigation funding and today’s award will fund phase 1 for engineering design analysis, as part of the total project.
“Given the limited number of hospitals available on Staten Island, it’s absolutely necessary that Staten Island University Hospital be equipped with mitigation and resiliency measures needed to protect the facility in the event of a future storm. So, I am pleased that FEMA is awarding over $1 million in federal hazard mitigation funding to help elevate electrical systems at the hospital’s Central Utility Plant,” said Senator Schumer. “We must continue to invest in flood-prevention measures at SIUH—which is located in a flood zone—so that the next storm does not cripple this essential health care facility, and I will fight tooth and nail to make sure SIUH gets all the mitigation funding it needs to be better protected in the future.”
“The Staten Island University Hospital provides essential emergency medical services for the community and I am pleased FEMA is awarding this critical funding to help the hospital better withstand future storms.” said Senator Gillibrand. “I will continue to fight for investments that help protect and strengthen vital facilities like this one so that Staten Island can be prepared for the next storm.”
“Staten Island University Hospital is grateful for the leadership and dedication that Senator Schumer and Senator Gillibrand, along with our partners in State and City government, have shown to us and the entire Staten Island community by investing in the hospital’s critical infrastructure. This funding will ensure the continued vitality of our institution and protect all Staten Islanders and enhance their uninterrupted delivery of Healthcare services when the next natural disaster strikes,” said Donna Proske, Executive Director at SIUH.
Hazard mitigation funding for SIUH will be used to mitigate against flood risk, including flood waters from rain/precipitation events and flood waters from coastal flooding and storm surge inundation. SIUH’s Central Utility Plant is in the lower level of the main hospital building and the lowest point on the Campus. The total estimated project cost is $23,199,900. This award is for $1,089,855 (federal share) for phase 1 for engineering design analysis and permitting.
FEMA’s hazard mitigation grant program provides funding under Section 406 of the Stafford Act, the federal disaster law that supplies aid to states and localities to implement long-term resiliency measures after a major disaster. The purpose of these grants is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during the immediate recovery from a disaster. Normally, without these grants, FEMA will only provide enough funds for a locality to rebuild using the same specifications as the original structure.
Senator Schumer has played a large role in SIUH’s post-Sandy recovery process. In 2013, Schumer and former Borough President James Molinaro urged FEMA to tour SIUH and RUMC to provide feedback on mitigation measures necessary to protect Staten Island’s hospital system against future storms. In June 2013, FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer toured the hospitals. Additionally, Schumer has advocated on behalf of SIUH’s flood-protection plan. In May, Schumer urged FEMA to support SIUH’s total mitigation project worth $23 million. Senator Gillibrand also advocated directly to FEMA with a 2013 letter in support of SIUH’s hazard mitigation request.
During Superstorm Sandy various weaknesses were revealed in the Staten Island hospital system, including SIUH’s campuses. SIUH is the largest employer on Staten Island and has over 6,000 employees. SIUH is located in Flood Zone A on Staten Island. During Hurricane Irene, both SIUH facilities were ordered evacuate or discharge all patients while the Emergency Room remained open. During Hurricane Sandy SIUH did not evacuate all patients, and the hospital remained staffed around the clock. The hospital was put on sporadic 911 diversions during the storm. Superstorm Sandy made some roads to the north campuses impassable and flood waters reached its doorstep. The building that housed the SIUH Data Center was evacuated due to flooding, shutting down hospital computers and preventing staff from accessing electronic medical records. For the duration of Hurricane Sandy, SIUH staff relied on paper records.