Monday was just another work day for Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, but the facility had already made extensive preparations to ensure that it would be able to weather Hurricane Sandy.
Michael O’Farrell, spokesman for L&M, said planning for the hurricane began last week under Ron Kersey, the hospital’s emergency services coordinator. L&M opened an incident command center at about 6 a.m. on Monday and closed it on Wednesday morning about 9 a.m.
“We fared very well,” said O’Farrell. “While we started our generators on the main campus, we never lost power.”
O’Farrell said the hospital has four generators. They were started to warm them up in case of a power outage, but the campus remained powered and accessible by road.
Among the extra precautions for the storm were a cancellation of elective surgeries on Monday and Tuesday, the closing of off-site facilities, and the extension of hours at the Pequot Health Center in Groton to allow for 24-hour emergency care there.
Staffing levels remained level, as some employees worked from home and additional facilities workers reported to work in case of problems at the building. The hospital also brought in cots to accommodate workers who needed to stay on site due to hazardous travel conditions. Employees were able to commute to work despite local and state travel bans by showing identification to police.
O’Farrell said the hospital saw increased traffic following Hurricane Sandy due to continuing disruptions in electricity and other services. He said most of the patient influx was a result of respiratory ailments, as people were unable to power their own breathing machines or receive oxygen tank deliveries. Other patients came to the hospital because other primary care facilities closed following the storm.
“We were still busy through yesterday…Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday the emergency room volumes were high. I’d say about 25 percent higher than usual,” said O’Farrell.
No L&M facilities were seriously damaged. O’Farrell said he thought the hospital fared well, especially given problems in New York City hospitals following the storm’s landfall.
“Like everybody, I think we’re thankful,” said O’Farrell. “All the plans were in place. And I think things worked to our advantage.”
Two women gave birth during the hurricane. Neither one decided to name their newborn Sandy.