Hurricane Sandy update: ‘We just had to take it on the chin’

Thursday, October 24, 2013

It’s been a year since Hurricane Sandy blew ashore, and provider David Chase says, despite the financial difficulties the storm wrought, he wouldn’t do anything different.

“I am still proud of my staff and the way we responded,” said David Chase, CEO of Hampton Home Care in Southampton, N.Y. “We are all a community and that was one thing we could do so that people didn’t have to go to the hospital.”

When the storm struck Oct. 29, 2012, it wiped out power to millions of people in the New York-New Jersey coastal area. Providers delivered thousands of oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies, even as their own businesses took a hit. In its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, Landauer Metropolitan Inc. cited losses from Hurricane Sandy as a contributing factor.

Chase estimates that he incurred financial losses in the “six figures.”

“There was a route we could possibly have applied for some disaster relief,” he said. “We did actually trying calling but couldn’t through or the website would lock up. We finally said, ‘Chances are they are going to deny us anyway.’”

Provider Tom Ryan says his company, Farmingdale, N.Y.-based Homecare Concepts, also took a financial hit.

“It was an unforeseen circumstance and expense at a time we were already under attack with price compression and audits,” said Ryan, one of the owners. “You have insurance for things like that that would cover floods and files destroyed, but it doesn’t cover the fact that you have to go out of your way to provide for patients 24/7. It wasn’t even covered under business interruption insurance. We just had to take it on the chin.”

One takeaway from the storm: The power outages created gas shortages, a problem for providers trying to deliver oxygen. If providers had emergency responder status, they say, they could have avoided four-hour waits in line.

“We called every local official and said that if such a disaster hits again we should be able to (be treated like and emergency vehicle),” said Chase. “They listened a lot more in November and December. Now it’s like, wait until the next disaster hits.”