Steve Ennis, technical adviser for emergency preparedness for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association said cellphone coverage was the biggest issue, as it was “nonexistent” right after the earthquake. The VHHA reported no injuries at its facilities and only minor damages after officials made cursory checks Tuesday afternoon. “Maybe there were some ceiling tiles, maybe a crack or so here and there; we're not at this moment seeing significant injuries, damages or whatever to the hospitals,” Ennis said.
Virginia hospitals reported admitting only four patients for earthquake-related injuries, he added.
Staff at the Federation of American Hospitals in Washington voluntarily evacuated their building after the earthquake, but spokesman Richard Coorsh said staff quickly returned to work Tuesday. Coorsh said it felt like the entire side of the building shook for about eight seconds.
“But it looks like we're back to work now,” he said.
The American Medical Association's office in the capital also evacuated, spokesman Robert Mills said. But staff also returned back to work, sitting in on a CMS teleconference by late afternoon.
The American Hospital Association's offices did the same: “Safety of our employees is our highest concern, so offices were evacuated temporarily,” AHA spokesman Matthew Fenwick said via e-mail.
No power outages were reported by Eric Earnhart, spokesman for Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Va.: “The power never flickered.”
Earnhart reported some network congestion, but no damage to facilities. He avoided the quake, as he was visiting a colleague in the basement. However, a doctor at Roanoke Memorial Hospital told him items on his desk rattled around for a minute: “That's a long time for things to be rattling for,” Earnhart said.
Up north, Brian Conway, a spokesman for the Greater New York Hospital Association, said he was hearing from members that hospitals experienced minor shaking and were conducting building assessments. No one reported damage, evacuations or patients with injuries caused by the quake. The New York City Office of Emergency Management, Conway said, advised that hospitals should respond according to their own protocols.
The three downtown HHS buildings in D.C. were evacuated for about an hour. Officials found no structural damage and then allowed employees back inside, HHS spokeswoman Erin Shields said via e-mail.