Halloween certainly rolled in with a scare this year when Hurricane Sandy, a devastating storm, came blasting up the East coast. Sandy left over 100 people dead and tens of thousands homeless. Whole communities in coastal New Jersey and New York were demolished. Mass transit was crippled (who can yet comprehend that every line of the NY subway system was flooded?) and gas shortages paralyzed transportation further. Over eight millions homes were without power – some of which for weeks.
John Wierzbowski, MSc, MPH, Safety/Emergency Preparedness manager, outside the PAH Command Center during Hurricane Sandy.
Despite all this, PAH – as it is with all hospitals – had to continue operating and providing a safe environment for patients and employees, even when SEPTA discontinued services and roads closed. Once again, PAH employees and staff rose to the occasion, came together and worked diligently to put the safety and welfare of our patients first to literally “weather the storm” that was Hurricane Sandy.
Robert (Bob) Jones, CPhT, a certified Pharmacy technician, was so concerned about not letting his team down that he walked for four hours through hurricane winds from his home in Germantown to make it in for his shift.
Operating room nurse Dawn Brown from Delaware had her own particular transportation obstacles to overcome. A state of emergency was called the earliest in DE and no cars were permitted to drive on the road on its highways. Dawn, who also happens to be a former police officer, was determined to make it in and drove during the “vehicle on road” ban. Dawn was pulled over no less than four times to be questioned by the police while driving in. Temporarily thwarted but not deterred, she could have gone home at any time, but wouldn’t give up.
Neurosurgeon Gordon Baltuch, MD, PhD, called Sean Rowland, CRNA, MA, vice president of Peri-Operative services to let him know he lived close to the hospital and was available to help during Sandy. “It wasn’t his surgical day, so I thanked him and ended the call,” said Rowland. “A few hours later I saw him in the hall with his coat. He had obviously just walked in from home. Again, Dr. Baltuch asked how he could be of help…He said he would do anything we needed, circulate as a nurse, be a scrub tech for another surgeon and even move patients.”