From a Distance, Feeling Close

A sunny day on the early flight from Syracuse to JFK. Sitting beside a pilot deadheading. We flew down the west side of the Hudson turning toward JFK after passing Staten Island. We both remarked how sunny and clear the day was with the two towers standing tall. Landed at approximately 8:30.

to my car heading to the hospital. I was the president of a psychiatric hospital and large skilled nursing facility, part of a network of institutions. When I walked into my office I was told by our medical director the first plane had hit the tower and it was causing some concern among the staff that we should curtail outside information to the patients. I convened a senior staff meeting to decide course of action. In the conference room we had the tv on and saw the second plane hit. The room was silent. Then as we watched the towers pancaked. Everyone knew life had changed. We immediately reacted to maintain a safe environment for patients. Soon afterward I was summoned to a conference call using what phones were working with all 11 hospitals. Fire emergency was staging equipment on the LIE to enter the city.

Hospitals were instructed to make room for mass casualties. Our hospitals closer to the city started preparations to expand medical capacity. We prepared to receive the patients from psychiatric units in other medical hospitals to expand their surgical bed capacity. By the day’s end we had received around 100 extra patients. As the day ended the CEOs gathered on another call. It was eire. When we all were asked to report there was dead silence. Then we all knew what ‘dead silence’ truly meant.

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