Betsy Ryan is president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. Her blog, Healthcare Matters, examines the many issues confronting New Jersey's hospitals and their patients. Readers are encouraged to join the discussion, because healthcare matters - to all of us.

Storm Stories: Healthcare Facilities Show Their Heart During Hurricane

As is so often the case, the worst of times bring out the best in people. And that’s certainly true with Hurricane Irene. The news is full of stories of devastation and loss, and my heart goes out to those seriously impacted by storm. But today, let me focus on the warm and uplifting storm stories that are coming in from across New Jersey…

Like Dr. Dwight Lee at Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, who climbed on to the back of a pickup truck, umbrella in hand, to assist a patient with chest pains. Meadowlands had wisely set up an “outpost” emergency department when the flood waters rose on its main facility. Working closely with their local EMS and county Office of Emergency Management, the hospital team continued to receive emergency patients throughout the storm, including critical cases of heart attack and stroke that could have been fatal without quick access to emergency care.

Or like the hospital workers hunkered down at hospitals all along the Jersey Shore. Many of them were evacuated from their own homes and went straight to their workplaces, committed to providing a shelter in the storm. While some hospitals in flood-prone areas made the right call to evacuate ahead of the storm, other hospitals made the prudent decision to “shelter in place” and continue to provide essential healthcare services to their community. To those hospitals and their dedicated staff, thank you for your bravery, your commitment and your very smart planning to assure the safety of your patients, community and colleagues.

Another heartwarming story came to us from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Rahway, where the hospital’s chapel hosted a wedding Sunday for a happy couple whose original church location was made inaccessible by Irene.

We also heard about many other blessed events – babies born at hospitals at the height of the storm. (Anyone like Irene as a middle name?)

I could go on and on, and I apologize for not being able to share every single story of service and commitment that occurred this past weekend at our hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and other healthcare organizations. Nor am I able to fully extend our appreciation to first responders such as EMS and local law enforcement, or the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services. All of them were tremendous partners with healthcare facilities to ensure the safety and well-being of our fellow New Jerseyans.

Written by Betsy Ryan at 18:23

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