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How a Storm-Battered Health System is Helping Employees

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, November 12, 2012

"The organization and Michael Dowling, our CEO, really felt that it was time to take care of our employees this time, and step up to the plate to make sure we're providing whatever resources they needed to go on and rebuild. To take care of them as much as we possibly can," says Cabral.

Out of this sentiment, the Emergency Employee Resource Center was built. All employees were notified of the center in a mass communication from Dowling. Employees were given the EERC call center number and direct access to the health system's emergency medical services before the storm hit.

In the first 48 hours of the storm, the EERC relocated 62 families in temporary housing. To date, the EERC has set up a total of 234 employees and family members in temporary housing. Many employees continue to sleep at the hospital until they can return home.  Social workers, emergency responders, and HR staff as well as others have been working "fast and furious," to handle the hundreds of calls coming in, Cabral says.

Mary LaPorta, 48, a part-time registered clerk at Northshore-LIJ's Franklin Hospital's admitting department, was one of those employees living in the temporary housing. She, her husband, and her three teenage sons were rescued after three days from their flooded home.  NorthShore-LIJ has also taken in LaPorta's friend and her five children, as well as LaPorta's sister and her 19-year-old son, who is disabled and ill.

LaPorta breaks into tears when she tells me about the director of her department at Franklin Hospital, who drove out in the hurricane and back again to deliver medicine to LaPorta's sister for her son until they could be rescued.

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