The North Shore-LIJ Health System announced today it has raised about $2.3 million for a relief fund that will be used primarily to benefit hundreds of employees' families devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Within 48 hours of landfall, the 16-hospital health system had placed 62 families into temporary housing, and those efforts have continued for hundreds of additional employees who were displaced.
In addition, through the health system's dedicated Emergency Employee Resource Center (EERC), North Shore-LIJ employees have already contributed over 1,000 vacation hours - totaling 137 business days - to impacted employees who will need to take time off to try to get their lives back in order. The EERC also has an online Community Forum where employees who want to help their coworkers in need can connect with them to coordinate direct donations, rides to work and other assistance.
"Considering how so many North Shore-LIJ employees care for their patients during their critical hours of need, we're proud to step up and take care of our colleagues when they need it most," said Michael Dowling, president and chief executive officer of North Shore-LIJ. "Even after Hurricane Sandy left death and destruction in her wake, there are untold stories of North Shore-LIJ caregivers who continued to come to work, despite losing their homes and most of their possessions to flooding and fires. Their extraordinary self-sacrifice, dedication and commitment are truly inspiring. Equally inspiring is the outpouring of support from North Shore-LIJ employees for their struggling coworkers. I extend my deepest appreciation to all of our employees who have generously donated money and time off to their colleagues in need."
Hundreds of North Shore-LIJ employees have already benefited from the health system's employee relief efforts. Following are a few of their stories.
Anthony DeCicco, a physical therapist at the North Shore-LIJ Home Care Network in Westbury, NY, just returned to work this September after suffering a brain aneurysm. Hurricane Sandy caused significant flood damage to his Island Park home and his family's three vehicles. Despite the damage and loss of power to his home, DeCicco took in his two elderly parents and their live-in aide, whose situation was even worse. He called the North Shore-LIJ EERC seeking assistance with fueling his generator. North Shore-LIJ responded quickly, helping to fill all of his gas cans as well as his rental car. Here are DeCicco direct words to North Shore-LIJ: "I love you! I do not know how to thank you for what you have done for me and my family!" DeCicco is currently staying at home, caring for his elderly parents. The health system is providing him with gas to heat his home using a generator so he doesn't have to leave his parents, who require constant care.
Mary LaPorta, an employee of Franklin Hospital's admitting department, lost her entire home in Far Rockaway, NY. She, her husband and their three children evacuated with only a few bags of their personal belongings - everything else was lost in the storm. LaPorta called the North Shore-LIJ EERC, which helped place her and her family into temporary housing at a Franklin Hospital residency home, and also provided mattresses, linens, toiletries, water and food. Upon their arrival, the family was greeted with a pizza delivery and personally handed pillows and blankets from a North Shore-LIJ executive director. With joyful tears, she expressed her gratitude to the health system for giving her a few less things to worry about as she starts the rebuilding process. She is currently staying with her family in residency housing at Franklin Hospital.
Roody Antoine, an environmental services employee at Plainview Hospital, reached out to the North Shore-LIJ EERC to seek shelter on the morning of Nov. 3. After Sandy's storm surge forced his family's evacuation from their Far Rockaway, NY home, they returned to find their home and most of their belongings destroyed. North Shore-LIJ was able to find temporary housing for Antoine and his family at Long Island Jewish Medical Center on the same day he called. The staff helped him and his family get settled and find something to eat, and toys were even provided for Antoine's young daughter. In his words, "this is a very, very special place that we work for." Antoine is currently staying at LIJ Medical Center campus with his family.
Of the $2.3 million pledged thus far for relief efforts, about $2 million represent the proceeds from the Lenox Hill Autumn Ball at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan. Event proceeds typically go toward the hospital's capital projects, but in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the destruction it caused throughout the tri-state area, Dowling decided to redirect funds from the event toward North Shore-LIJ's employee relief fund, as well as charities supporting other hurricane victims in the community.
Those wishing to support the effort can send a donation by check payable to the North Shore-LIJ Hurricane Sandy Employee Relief Fund and mail it to: NSLIJ Health System Foundation, 125 Community Drive, Great Neck, NY, 11021, or contribute on line at https://support.northshorelij.com/sandyrelief. To learn about other ways to assist, go to www.northshorelijhelps.com.