Monday, February 15, 2010

Staff Pulled Together During Snowstorms

Maryland’s nearly back to back blizzards caused snow outside to grow to amazing heights. Inside at LifeBridge Health, the staff pulled together and did what they had to do: take care of our patients.

It wasn’t always easy. Gerald Miller, a Sinai security guard, can attest to that. Wednesday morning a bit after 5:00 a.m., the Baltimore resident found himself snowed in at home and unable to get out of his driveway. So he followed protocol and called security requesting to be picked up and taken to the hospital.

“Security was so busy picking up essential personnel, like doctors, that they could not get to me,” Gerald said. “But I knew security had to be at work.”

So how did Gerald manage to get to Sinai in a raging blizzard with no available transportation? He walked. For about an hour he walked, trudging mostly uphill from his Baltimore home. And, Gerald, as he puts it “is no spring chicken.”

The 66-year-old had a hard time convincing his coworkers that he trekked in. “Walking up Pimlico Road felt like I was climbing Mount Everest,” he said. “People do not believe I did it. But I got here. There was no other way.”

Gerald, who doesn’t appear to be carrying any extra weight, credits his physique for getting him to Sinai. “My long legs must have helped,” he said. His dedication and perseverance didn’t hurt either.

At Northwest Hospital, extra attention was placed on making sure staff did not burn out, says Nelson Figueroa, director of Patient Care Services at Northwest. Nelson, who was also the emergency coordinator for the hospital, credits the staff for acting professionally and proactively.

“The weekend staff came in Friday night to make sure they were here on Saturday,” Nelson said. “They were here for the weekend and they went home and the Monday staff came in fresh.”

Nelson is “very humbled and impressed” by the dedication of the staff. “The entire hospital pulled together,” he said. “People slept on cots and the cots are not the most comfortable things to sleep on. But staff morale was up and we got comments that everything was very well organized.”

Not only was the staff dedicated, LifeBridge Health wishes to thank the community for coming through in a crisis.

“Support from the community was amazing,” said Diane Johnson, vice president of Patient Care for Sinai. “People with four-wheel vehicles were calling left and right offering to drive those who needed it."

At one point, there was close to 400 people sleeping over at the hospital, she said. “The snowstorm was disruptive, but we continue to function well.”

It was a different experience, said Vernetta Melvin, an administrative associate in the GIGU.

“I saw the professional staff and the administrative staff transition into family. We all bonded together and it was nice," she said. Vernetta now refers to some of the staff as “my snoring buddies.”

Dee McRae, a patient care associate in the GIGU unit credits everyone for pulling together in the time of need.

“Overall everyone was definitely up to the task,” she said. "I appreciated housecleaning – who cleaned the rooms the staff slept in - transportation, laundry, everyone. Everyone worked hard to make the experience better.”

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