As Superstorm Sandy raged up the East Coast, South Nassau employees were already at work strategizing for the storm's aftermath.

For a number of South Nassau's employees, their dedication led them to spend that windswept, rain-soaked Monday night at the hospital, sleeping on cots so they could be prepared to hit the ground running Tuesday morning. Some employees lost their homes, cars and other property, but continued to come to work every day in spite of the adversity the storm wreaked on them personally.

Power remained on at the hospital throughout the storm, and the hospital's doors and emergency department remained open to treat patients as well as to allow members of the community a respite from the cold temperatures and a place to charge their cellphones, in the wake of a storm that cut power and communications to much of the Island for nearly a week, and in some areas, much longer.

Residents from hard-hit communities including Lido Beach, Long Beach and Atlantic Beach who needed urgent medical care inundated South Nassau's Emergency Department for treatment. The hospital's census, which stood at 274 patients hours before the hurricane hit, climbed to almost 400 patients six days later.

South Nassau emergency department employees teamed with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) to provide care to inpatients and storm-ravaged residents. In the hospital's Washington Avenue parking lot, MASH-like tents were set up, where the DMAT team of 42 Seattle-area doctors, nurses and paramedics treated minor illnesses and injuries and refilled prescriptions. "We saw a lot of lacerations, cuts and bruises from people cleaning out their homes damaged by the storm," said Laura Bethke, R.N. of DMAT, who also works as a flight nurse. "We also treated broken bones in people who fell down darkened stairwells."

With the exception of the hospital's outpatient dialysis center, most of South Nassau's off-site facilities were undamaged and were able to open on the Friday after the storm. The dialysis center, located in south Oceanside, is currently undergoing a complete renovation.

CBS News Coverage of South Nassau's Relief efforts:


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