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Q&A: NJ Health System CEO's Post-Sandy Appraisal

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, November 1, 2012

HLM: Was there any damage to your hospital?

Garrett:
"Just minor. Here in Hackensack we had a little bit of wind damage. A piece of our cancer center building roof was damaged and a sister hospital at Mountainside got through it well.

There are some branches and down trees but they didn't destroy or damage any hospital assets. It's pretty much the same story up in Pascack Valley; trees and limbs down but not damage to property."

HLM: What areas might be reassessed as you examine HUMC's response to the storm?

Garrett:
"The things that can always improve are communications. Not just internally in the medical center, but also the external communications that come to us. That is something I want to review with first responders and the state and federal responders.

There is a lot of information that comes in at the height of a storm and sometimes it is conflicting. Obviously you want to act on good information and that can always be improved."

HLM: Is the full staff back on duty?

Garrett:
"We never had an issue with staffing. People stayed if they had to and people came in early to make sure they were here. If they were in doubt, many staff members packed a bag and stayed overnight.

We had cots available for people to sleep in shifts. As a matter of fact, in a couple of areas we had so many volunteers who wanted to stay longer or came in earlier that we had more than enough staff."

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