Health care professionals recount experiences working in NY hospitals on 9/11

Two health care professionals in the tri-state area are sharing their experiences working in New York hospitals on Sept. 11, 2001.

News 12 Staff

Sep 11, 2021, 6:24 PM

Updated 1,016 days ago


Two health care professionals in the tri-state area are sharing their experiences working in New York hospitals on Sept. 11, 2001.
Dr. Frank Illuzzi is Hartford HealthCare's medical director for specialty services.
But twenty years ago, Illuzzi was the chief resident at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, when terrorists flew two planes into the World Trade Center.
Illuzzi said the hospital didn't even send an alert out and over 100 doctors and nurses showed up immediately, instinctively saying, "How can we help?"
He explained that the hospital immediately enacted its disaster plan, preparing for an onslaught of patients, which were an estimated 500 to 1,000 people.
But he told News 12 that only a dozen or two came, and the number of survivors were far fewer than they thought at first.
Illuzi shares, "It was an awful, awful, sinking feeling. I mean, anybody who went through it. That day just kept getting worse and worse... the whole day."
Hartford HealthCare's President and CEO Jeff Flaks witnessed it firsthand.
Twenty years ago, he worked at St. Vincent's Hospital in lower Manhattan.
He shared that he was in the middle of a meeting in his board room when everyone heard a loud noise.
"At the hospital campus, they immediately closed down 7th Avenue. All of our doctors and nurses sprang into action and really created hundreds of beds on 7th avenue between 11th and 12th street," Flaks explained.
Flaks says the initial rush brought more than 300 patients, physically hurt but also emotionally traumatized.
He also remembers the faces of so many family members learning their loved ones hadn't made it to the hospital.
Like Flaks, Dr. Illuzi told News 12 that every anniversary reopens old wounds, but he's found a personal remedy by dwelling on the good things people did that day to try to help each other.  

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