Hospitals in New England, especially in Massachusetts, bore the brunt of the winter storm that hit the East Coast starting Monday evening, with some areas reporting over 20 inches of snow and strong wind gusts. New York City institutions, which also had been expecting record snow, were largely spared the worst of the storm, however.
The storm hit hard on Nantucket, a summer-resort island with about 11,000 year-round residents located 30 miles south of Cape Cod. Most of the island lost power at some point during the storm, which brought hurricane-force winds. Nantucket Cottage Hospital, the island's only hospital, was still running on a generator as of Tuesday afternoon.
“It's been a pretty bad nor'easter,” hospital spokesman Jason Graziadei said. “We do get storms like this, but to have the power go out islandwide as long as it has is pretty unique.”
Though some ambulatory clinics within the critical-access hospital postponed appointments or asked patients to come in before the storm hit, all core services remained in operation, including the hospital's emergency department, lab services and radiology, Graziadei said. Unlike other hospitals, no staff stayed at the facility overnight.
Providers at the hospital even delivered a healthy baby boy, named Cayden, shortly before 4 a.m. Tuesday. Mother and baby are both doing well, Graziadei said.
The hospital is working with police and fire officials to bring individuals to the hospital who require a 24-hour supply of oxygen and are concerned that they may run out before more can be brought to them. So far, six individuals have been brought in.
Officials at several other New England hospitals say they're operating as planned. Hospitals near the coast of Massachusetts aren't reporting major staffing problems or damage to facilities even as getting to work was difficult for some employees.
At Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, 375 employees stayed the night to ensure that patients would receive proper care. The hospital expects a similar amount to sleep there again Tuesday night, a spokesman said. A volunteer pool of employees who were not scheduled to work also helped with food delivery and patient transport.
Cambridge (Mass.) Health Alliance had 250 staffers stay overnight at its three community hospital campuses, 126 of whom were at Cambridge Hospital, according to a spokesman. The hospitals' emergency departments weren't as busy as usual because of a statewide travel ban. Most patients who did show up were coming in via ambulance, many with flu-like illnesses or snow-related conditions, such as exhaustion from shoveling or hypothermia exposure, the spokesman said.
Tufts Medical Center in Boston arranged for discounted rates at five nearby hotels to ensure that employees could get to work Tuesday, a spokeswoman said. All of the hotels sold out, and about 115 employees stayed after their scheduled shifts to assist their co-workers at the hospital Tuesday evening.
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