Aided by volunteer drivers and the National Guard, East Coast hospitals and emergency medical service providers hunkered down to business even as the blizzard of 1996 blanketed the region in record amounts of snow last week.
Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton admitted 23 residents evacuated from 120-bed Bradford Oaks Nursing Center, also in Clinton, after the roof above the nursing home's dining room caved in under nearly three feet of snow. Another 40 residents of Bradford Oaks were taken to a hotel on the hospital's campus.
No one was injured in the collapse, which happened early last Monday, but the facility lost heat and electricity, forcing the evacuation. Southern Maryland Hospital Center contacted family members and coordinated the residents' transfer to area nursing homes, said Patricia Christensen, a registered nurse and vice president for patient services at the hospital.
Meanwhile, with help from the National Guard, New York City's Emergency Medical Service deployed 40 to 50 extra ambulances per eight-hour shift, putting a total of 320 vehicles at the ready at any one time, said David Bookstaver, EMS' director of public information. The volume of 911 calls surged 30% during the storm, while response times slowed to more than 20 minutes from the usual 81/2 for the most serious emergencies, he said.
Yale-New Haven (Conn.) Hospital used local media organizations to recruit more than 200 people with four-wheel-drive vehicles to transport employees who couldn't get to work on their own. And the hospital operated on back-up generators for 10 hours until regular power was restored.
"It was the most extensive weather-related emergency that we've had to deal with in the last 15 years," said Tom Urtz, Yale-New Haven's director of public relations.