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After Hurricane Sandy decimated this hospital, engineers rebuilt it as a storm-proof 'fortress' — here's why it's so unique

"We literally built a fort."

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital

Photo Credit: Nyc health and hospitals

In May 2023, the new Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital building opened to patients on the site of the flooded Coney Island Hospital, The New York Times reported.

In 2012, Brooklyn's Coney Island Hospital was devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Upwards of 370 patients had to be evacuated as seawater flowed directly into the emergency room.

Since then, the damaged hospital has limped on, receiving one star out of five from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Times says.

According to the Times, a full restoration would have cost almost as much as an entirely new building, so that's how city hospital leaders got the Federal Emergency Management Agency to invest.

With a budget of almost $1 billion, the city's public hospital system built a "fortress," a new hospital designed to tolerate even a once-in-a-lifetime storm. They then named it after the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was born in Brooklyn.

NYC Health + Hospitals reports that a building called the Hammett Pavilion suffered the worst damage in the disaster. This was the site of the hospital's Behavioral Health inpatient facility.

The Times reported that the Behavioral Health department had been moved to the 11th and highest floor of the new Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital tower, a spot with gorgeous city views and dedicated outdoor areas for patients.

On the fifth floor, the new building houses two massive generators to provide power to the hospital in case of future disasters, the Times reports. The new emergency department is on the second floor, where it will remain dry even if the campus floods again.

However, steps have been taken to prevent future flooding, according to the Times

The entire hospital campus is now surrounded by a 4-foot-tall wall with solid gates at all entrances that can be sealed to keep out flood waters. Meanwhile, the building is designed to withstand hurricane winds and flying debris.

Weatherproof buildings are becoming more important as the world heats up. The rising temperature across the globe has made the climate less stable, leading to extreme weather events, including more frequent and more severe hurricanes. A hospital, in particular, is a refuge that is all the more needed during a disaster.

Now the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital building is up to the challenge. As Svetlana Lipyanskaya, the chief executive of NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health, told the Times, "When I say we're an anchor in this community, we literally built a fort."

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