Preparations for the storm benignly named "Sandy" paid off. Both campuses of Yale-New Haven Hospital and the Shoreline Medical Center were prepared for its wet and windy onslaught and remained open for patients throughout the storm.
With help from the YNHHS Office of Emergency Preparedness, for days before the storm, the hospital's Emergency Command Center began to assess its impact and how the hospital would remain open to meet patient needs. Team members met in person and by phone at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day, with phone meetings at noon as issues arose.
On Monday, October 29, the YNHH Command Center located on the 5th floor of Smilow Cancer Hospital revved into operation under the leadership of Donald MacMillan, PA, Emergency Management coordinator, and Abe Lopman, senior vice president, Operations, and executive director, Smilow. Managers on both campuses participated in a 10 a.m. meeting to discuss preparations in their areas.
At the meeting, they began to resolve key issues: where on both campuses to house the 600 staff who would provide continuous care for patients and support services for employees and patients; how to provide food for those staff who would come in early or stay overnight to be ready for their shift; and to decide what outpatient offices to close and how to alert staff and patients that they would be closed.
At 10 a.m., the Command Center was in full swing, with representatives from all disciplines contributing to preparations for Sandy.
With Sandy bearing down on the East Coast and detailed preparation under way at YNHH, at 10 a.m. on Monday, YNHH received a call from Hospice in Branford. Flooding along Long Island Sound was expected and Hospice had to evacuate — could Yale-New Haven take its 41 patients and staff?
Space was found rapidly on the Saint Raphael Campus of YNHH on the 4th floor of Verdi. The unit had not housed patients in more than a year and was scheduled for renovation this spring. The Saint Raphael Campus staff had only four hours to prepare the unit for evacuated patients.
"This request came in while we were asking our own staff to prepare for the storm," said Ena Williams, RN, associate chief nursing officer, SRC. "It required close collaboration among a number of departments and they had to begin the transformation rapidly."
Hospice would staff the unit with its own doctors and nurses and brought its Pyxis to dispense medications. To make the unit operational, Saint Raphael Campus staff worked feverishly to clean the space, provide hospital beds, order patient care supplies from oxygen canisters to gloves and masks, and prepare to feed this fragile population of patients. Bed management, ITS, Laboratory Medicine and Pastoral Care also supported Hospice staff and patients during their three-day stay.
Because the course and duration of Sandy were uncertain, managers asked staff to bring in sleeping bags, pillows and personal supplies. Staff on the General Medicine Unit (SLA 4) responded to the call. Shown (l-r) are: Dana Rector, RN; Desiree Leone, clinical technician; Michele Ferguson, RN; and Linsey Connor, RN.
While Verdi 4 North prepared for the Hospice transfers, space was found for overnighting staff on the Smilow infusion units and post-anesthesia care units, and staff on both campuses and Shoreline Medical Center brought in sleeping bags and pillows. Food and Nutrition prepared more than 1,600 emergency meals for staff on both campuses, while food prep for patients and visitors continued uninterrupted. Facilities staff checked generators and pumps to avoid operational shut-downs.
"What I saw during the days leading up to and during Hurricane Sandy was absolutely remarkable," said Richard D'Aquila, president and COO. "I saw employees on both campuses work together seamlessly to ensure that our patients and their families would continue to receive safe, high-quality care.
"From the beginning of our discussions with the Hospital of Saint Raphael, we envisioned a stronger hospital built on exceptional employees," said D'Aquila. "Less than two months after our integration, our employees were put to an extreme test and performed flawlessly.
For the community we serve, our performance during Sandy shows that we are truly ‘healthier together' and bodes well for our future as a major provider of health services in this region."