Baltimore-area hospitals set to cope with hotel reservations, 4-wheel-drive vehicles

February 05, 2010|By Kelly Brewington

Administrators at Baltimore-area hospitals were bracing Thursday for the weekend's expected snowstorm by fine-tuning contingency plans, jump-starting emergency command centers and making sleeping arrangements for critical staff, from hotel reservations to outfitting hospital units with free beds.

"We want our patients and family and friends to know that we have made preparations to be fully staffed and to take excellent care of our patients in spite of what the weather brings," said Ellen Beth Levitt, a spokeswoman at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Anne Arundel Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical Center have volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles on hand to drive people to work if they can't make it on their own. During December's storm, GBMC used its emergency command unit to notify the National Guard to have a Humvee pick up nurses who lived in rural Harford County and take them to the Towson hospital, said Michael Schwartzberg, a GBMC spokesman.

Hospital administrators said they made improvements after December's record-setting storm. "We are reaching out more broadly to the medical staff earlier," said Herbert C. Buchanan Jr., chief operating officer for the University of Maryland Medical Center. "We have tightened up the processes."

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