Medical van visits Sandy victims

Photo by Phil Corso
By Phil Corso

The last thing victims of Hurricane Sandy should need to worry about is their health insurance coverage, doctors and administrators from North Shore-LIJ Health System said.

In an effort to ease the suffering of residents in Broad Channel, where more than 100 homes were wiped out, North Shore-LIJ launched “Project Coastal Care,” fully equipped with a mobile medical van to offer free medical care to anyone in need. Throughout last week, doctors saw hurricane victims either injured while cleaning up debris or facing other illnesses in the aftermath of the intense storm.

Maria Carney, director of community-based geriatrics at North Shore-LIJ and former Nassau County health commissioner, worked with a small team of doctors and administrators since Nov. 16 to dispense medical care and advice, all free of charge.

“This is a humanitarian effort,” Carney said. “We are here to help a community in need.”

Although the superstorm swept through the borough more than three weeks ago, rebuilding efforts have since been underway for residents left without homes or any means to return to normalcy, Carney said.

Serving as an urgent care center, the van, set up at 209 Cross Bay Blvd., has been staffed with doctors and nurses prepared to treat and prescribe medication, administer flu or tetanus shots and more. If further assistance was needed, ambulance service was available for patients needing to get to the hospital.

Throughout last week, doctors have been seeing nearly 30 storm victims a day suffering from cuts and lacerations, respiratory ailments and broken bones, Carney said.

“People have been very appreciative,” Carney said. “This van is just a small part of what North Shore-LIJ is doing to help out.”

Carney said the health system has also been providing assistance to shelters throughout Long Island and New York City to give back.

Dr. Matthew Tiffany, of Southside Hospital in Bayshore, L.I., said he was volunteering his time to help serve residents affected by the storm as one of the two doctors on staff each day alongside nurses and administrators.

“At a time like this, it is good to show that we are not just figures in a hospital,” Tiffany said.

Working alongside Tiffany was Dr. Frederick Davis, who said his primary concern was making sure residents throughout the area were aware of the free medical services awaiting them.

Davis said he was seeing patients with a variety of needs, mostly suffering from respiratory illnesses or injuries related to the cleaning up of debris and other storm-related messes.

After serving for a week in Broad Channel, Carney said the medical unit worked with the state Department of Health and relocated to Long Beach in Nassau and would continue to tour affected areas as long as there was a need.

“When you see the devastation that people have endured, it is just remarkable,” Carney said. “We are trying to improve access to care. We are here to help.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-457

More from Around New York