Clearly it takes more than an early season blizzard and power outage to slow us down. Baystate Mary Lane Hospital employees plowed through last weekend's snowstorm, covering extra shifts to ensure their hospital was safe for patients and visitors.
It is true that hospital work is never done, but occasionally we get called on to do even more, and our employees did that in an exemplary way. It takes a team to provide excellence of care, something our patients expect and deserve.
Throughout the year, regardless of the weather or other type of emergent situation, our team of health care providers stands ready to provide outstanding compassionate care every day.
Chuck Gijanto, President Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, Baystate Regional Markets
One of the nursing supervisors at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, Catherine Markham, RN had already walked a mile and had only 6 more to go. Markham didn’t let the storm stop her from her passion and profession of nursing. The October 29th snow storm, which left hundreds of thousands of people across Massachusetts without power, also created transportation barriers with downed trees and power lines, but that wasn’t going to keep Markham from caring for her community.
Early Sunday, as she assessed the damages to her home noting the impassable roads, Kathleen Souza, who lives on the Ware/Hardwick line, met Markham. “I heard a whistle from a woman walking down the road toward our house; she yelled “do you have a phone?” Markham was trying to get a message to the hospital that she was on her way to help. “Communication was a challenge and even cell phone service was limited after the storm,” said Souza.
At that moment a plow truck came up the road. Before Markham could finish explaining that a ride to the hospital was needed, the driver said “I know who you are; you were my nurse at the hospital.” He turned around; proud to deliver Markham to Baystate Mary Lane Hospital, where she would soon join the team of health care professionals ready to meet the medical needs of so many affected by the storm.
“My heart is so warmed to know that I live in a town where the nurses at the local hospital care enough about what they do to risk miles of walking down a country road in the aftermath of a nasty storm so that they can take care of their neighbors in the community,” said Souza.
Long before the power went out Saturday night, a team of medical professionals met at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital preparing for the October snow storm that would soon be thought of as ‘the storm of the century.’
“Throughout the storm and for days after, the number of patients seeking care in our emergency department doubled,” said Dr. Richard Gerstein, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital. Although the hospital lost power; it remained fully operational with generator power.”
According to Dr. Joseph Lellman, orthopedic surgeon who provided care for a number of patients who came to the hospital with dislocations and fractures as a result of the winter storm, “It was a team effort under difficult circumstances. The Emergency Department was swamped with weather-related injuries, storm refugees, and their usual patient load.” “The surgical services staff was among the many that worked overtime to prove care for the influx of patients that needed emergency surgery as well all the regularly scheduled surgical cases.”
Mark Tuttle, RN, nurse manager of the Emergency Room and Bart Monopoli, manager of engineering, are both Emergency Preparedness Coordinators for the hospital. They spent the first 60 hours of the storm at the hospital to ensure the safety of the staff, patients and the facility. They also worked together to anticipate the needs of the hospital to endure not only the day of the storm but for the many days that followed.
“One of the first things we did was contact the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), State Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to notify them that the hospital was on generator power, once the power went out,” noted Tuttle. “Coordination with DPH-EOC is important because they help to prioritize critical areas for power restoration with National Grid. Power restoration to the town is of the utmost importance because it enables the hospital to remain open, operational, and effective to care for people in our many surrounding communities,” said Tuttle.
“During a winter storm such as the one that hit the area this week, it’s important to know that Baystate Mary Lane Hospital will remain open and operating at full capacity,” said Dr. Mohammed Ahmed, Chief Medical Officer at the hospital. “I am very proud of our employee’s outstanding response to the needs of our patients,” said Dr. Ahmed. “In the wake of this event, so many of our employees were true heroes and worked long hours to ensure the health and well being our all our community members.
“Looking forward we continue our commitment to quality care, patient safety, and positive patient experiences at Baystate Mary Lane Hospital,” noted Dr. Ahmed. We have indeed has a long, rich history serving generations of families in this area, and we look forward to serving this community well into the future—as a vital, reliable local resource that is part of a nationally recognized health care system.