For hospitals, emergency workers and those who provide vital health care to patients confined to home, the latest snowstorm presents a bigger challenge than the last.
At the University of Maryland Medical Center, the back-to-back storms left the emergency room hectic, with patients injured in falls and vehicle accidents, said Lisa Rowen, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer. In addition, this time of year there's typically a spike in pediatric illnesses such as respiratory viruses and asthma.
While some clinicians weren't able to make it to work, Rowan said, the hospital had an overwhelming response from many others who came to work a day before their shift with overnight bags at their side.
Wednesday's fierce storm paralyzed operations at the Baltimore Health Department's transportation system that shuttles needy dialysis patients to treatment.
When nonemergency vehicles were called off the roads Wednesday morning, the program had 77 patients in the process of being transported, said Pamela Somers, program director of field health services for the Health Department. Vans that were midroute made it to dialysis centers, but those patients remained stranded. Other patients had to stay home and go without the vital treatment.
Somers said Wednesday afternoon that vans would get back on the road as soon as they were allowed. But ferrying patients in blizzard conditions proved daunting, if not impossible. National Guard Humvees, firetrucks and other EMS staff helped when transport vans got stuck.
Jeff Matton, president of Good Samaritan Hospital, and T.J. Senker, vice president for professional services, went out Wednesday to pick up a dialysis patient who lives less than a mile from the hospital, said Debbie Bangledorf, a Good Samaritan spokeswoman. When their sport utility vehicle couldn't make it to the 85-year-old patient's door, they walked to the house and carried him back to their SUV.
On Tuesday, nine home hospice patients with Gilchrist Hospice Care had to be transported to the organization's inpatient center in Towson because they had lost power at their homes or were too ill not to receive a nurse home visit during the snowstorm, said Regina Bodnar, director of clinical services.
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