How 1 hospital managed to ride out the storm

WASHINGTON — It’s business as usual at local hospitals after a storm that paralyzed the D.C. area. They functioned smoothly through the worst of it, in large part because they planned ahead.

At Adventist Health Care Shady Grove Medical Center, as at most of the region’s hospitals, planning started well before the blizzard struck. Instead of making hospital staff scramble to get to work in the snow, the decision was made that they would shelter in place during the storm — taking up residence in empty hospital beds.

A total of 115 staff members stayed at the hospital throughout the blizzard and the beginning of the big dig that followed.

Joan Vincent, the chief nursing officer at Shady Grove, said they tried to send as many patients home as they could before the storm. The ones that remained tended to be the sickest — including the few who came in by ambulance as the snow piled up and the winds blew.

A dialysis team remained to provide treatment to those in need, and surgeons were on hand to handle emergencies. Elective procedures scheduled for Monday were handled on a case-by-case basis — many of them postponed because doctors not normally staffed on weekends could not get out of their neighborhoods due to the snowfall.

Through all of it, there was no big appeal for four-wheel drives to shuttle medical personnel — although at Shady Grove, they logged numerous calls from volunteers offering their services.

It was a new approach, and by all accounts it worked extraordinarily well.

“I think we learned that this is the way it should be done,” Vincent says.

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