The East Coast is bracing for as much as 30 inches of snow in parts of the Mid-Atlantic. But hospitals in the area say they aren't worried.
Significant media attention has been placed on the nation's capital, where federal offices shut down at noon Friday. MedStar Health, a major provider in the area, has prepared by ordering extra supplies and arranging for staff accommodations, spokeswoman Ann Nickels said.
“The storm prediction has been pretty steady for a week, so we're not caught off guard,” Nickels said.
MedStar operates 10 hospitals and a number of ambulatory sites across the greater D.C. area, Maryland and Virginia. Nickels said the system has closed some of its non-acute facilities, including urgent-care centers and physician practices.
Essential staff at MedStar's hospitals will stay overnight to prepare for the weekend. Because MedStar's facilities cover such a wide geography, leaders expect to see different conditions across the system.
Children's National Medical Center, near Howard University and MedStar Washington Hospital Center in D.C., announced Friday afternoon that weather conditions forced the closure of its outpatient clinics. The acute-care hospital was open as of 3 p.m. EST. A hospital spokesperson was not available for comment.
New York City is expected to see 10 to 18 inches of snow.
Brad Gair, vice president of emergency management and enterprise resilience at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the hospital is in “great shape” because it has arranged for more staff than needed. They did that to cover co-workers who may not be able to make it in. The hospital is also providing lodging for staff.
During storms, NYU Langone and other hospitals typically see fewer patients in the emergency department because they will defer cases that don't need immediate attention, such as minor flu symptoms or routine healthcare needs.
Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City has also stocked up on supplies and made overnight accommodations for staff, said Dr. Kevin Chason, director of emergency management.
Preparations for impending storms at Mount Sinai is “routine activity,” Chason said.
Although Washington has experienced intense gridlock and major transit issues, New York will fare better, said Gair, a former New York City emergency management official. “It's very difficult for other cities to do what we do." He added that D.C. experienced a shutdown this week because it has fewer resources than New York City.
"They're even talking about it being a week or longer event just because of lack of resources,” Gair said.
In Baltimore, up to 30 inches of snow has been predicted. Johns Hopkins Hospital has extra supplies of food and water for patients and is making sure the streets and sidewalks on its five-block campus are plowed, said Howard Gwon, senior director of emergency management.
Most departments in the hospital such as oncology are currently at 90% capacity. Gwon said staffing levels are normal and staff is encouraged to stay overnight.
Johns Hopkins has an active trauma center, so Gwon said the city works to constantly clear the roads to the hospital.
The academic facility treats patients from across the country and surgeries were not postponed, Gwon said.
“It's probably going to be the biggest storm we've ever had in Maryland,” Gwon said. “In 2010, we led the country in snowfall, but we got through that, so we're pretty confident well get through this one as well.”