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Hurricane Irene Sets Hospitals Scrambling to Prepare

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 26, 2011

The system is required by its accreditation agency to have a plan in place to sustain itself for four days. Mike Metzing, director of plan operations for the hospital system, explained that inventories of materials, linens, medicine and food supplies have been completed and suppliers have been notified what the system will need through the beginning of next week. "Most hospitals work on a just-in-time schedule for supplies so finding storage space for all of the extra items has been a challenge."

Same-day surgeries were expected to continue through Friday but elective surgeries requiring a hospital stay have been cancelled.

Physicians have been reviewing patient records to see what patients can be discharged before the storm hits. Beginning at 6 PM on Saturday, hospital staff will begin staying at the facilities to make sure patient care continues at typical levels. A trauma team and hospitalists will also remain at the system's hospitals. An onsite daycare facility that can accommodate 30 children will be available for staff members.

North Shore-Long Island Jewish Hospital, Great Neck, NY

This 15-hospital system anticipates a direct hit by Hurricane Irene at all of its facilities sometime Saturday night. Scott Strauss, corporate director for security and emergency management for the system, said his team has been planning since Monday for the storm. With so many hospitals to consider, Strauss must be prepared for anything, including possible evacuations at some of the system's facilities located in flood zones.

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