Blind 93-year-old nursing home refugee of Hurricane Sandy found after two weeks

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Blind 93-year-old nursing home refugee of Hurricane Sandy found after two weeks

Paul DiViesti's search to find his grandmother after Hurricane Sandy has a happy ending.

Inside a nursing home dining room in Brooklyn, where hospital beds were separated by white cloth screens, he saw a long gray ponytail and knew he had found her after two weeks.

Marie Salatino, 93, was among nearly 200 residents of a beachside nursing home in Rockaway Park, Queens, who were evacuated in a chaotic fashion during Hurricane Sandy. After the storm, DiViesti was unable to locate the retired union seamstress and was not sure she if the dementia patient had survived.

DiViesti, 35, and his mother, Lillian, 69, said they received no information from Promenade Rehabilitation and Health Care Center (PRHCC), on Beach 114th Street.

With phone lines to the local police precinct down, Paul DiViesti reached a representative of the city's Healthcare Facility Evacuation Center, who advised him to call 311. But the number did not work outside of New York City. One shelter he called did not tell him that his grandmother was actually there. Her records had not traveled with her;  she was eventually identified by a wristband with her name on it.

Laurie J. Palladino, the administrator of neighboring Ocean Promenade Nursing Center on Beach 113th Street, which has no connection with PRHCC, told Paul DiViesti that Promenade residents were safely evacuated, but she did not know to where.

On Saturday, Lillian DiViesti received a welcome call. A social worker at Promenade told her that her mother was safe and had been transferred to Four Seasons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, at 1555 Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie, Brooklyn. The call followed the publication of a New York Times article about the chaotic evacuation at Promenade, which mentioned the DiViesti family's plight.

Calls also came in from Four Seasons, which had taken in 15 residents from Promenade and dozens more from four other nursing homes, which quickly bought extra beds overnight from Canada.

On Tuesday, Lillian, Paul and Bridget H. DiViesti and their 2-year-old daughter, Hayden, drove two hours from Marlborough, NY, for a happy reunion.

 

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