Reprinted with Permission
WASHINGTON - One of the biggest challenges during the snowstorm is getting the sick and injured to the hospital.
Georgetown University Hospital is given high marks nationally for its emergency preparedness. Hospital President Dr. Richard Goldberg told ABC 7 News Wednesday that experiences ranging from treating Pentagon patients on Sept. 11 to learning from the last big snowstorm in December, have all contributed to a tightly coordinated system in place to respond to this blizzard.
For Dr. Brendan Furlong and the emergency room staff at Georgetown University Hospital, it's another busy day with plenty of patients and some big blizzard challenges in treating them.
Responding to an elderly patient's 911 call, it took D.C. Fire Department and EMS crews several extra precious minutes of shoveling to clear a path to get to her.
"She was stable enough that we could use a stair chair to get her out," said Sheila Henderson of D.C. Fire and Rescue Engine 5. "And thank goodness she was stable enough when we got in there -- it wasn't a very, very bad delta call."
One floor above the ER is the command center where the hospital's chief operating officer is meeting with the blizzard response team. They're keeping tabs on everything, from an upgraded transport system for staff and patients to their 96-hour emergency stocking.
With the ER busy, it's all hands on deck with outpatient gurneys and cots to sleep on if staff need them. Dr. Goldberg says from the staff keeping snow mopped up to the most senior physicians, he's proud of his team's response during one of the most memorable winters in his 41 years at the hospital.
"It's a memorable event," he said. "It's a double whammy. When things go on after the acute event for several days it tends to fatigue people, but we've been prepared and the planning has worked and the spirits are great."
One big challenge this university could face is that it's an organ transplant hospital and it's extremely important to move organs quickly. The head of the hospital says that could be a real challenge in this blizzard but says they are meeting every other challenge head on.