Blizzard forces hospitals to get creative

In the face of a roaring blizzard, New England hospitals showed their creativity and their compassion in ensuring continued care for their patients. From police escorts to cross country skis, doctors and nurses did all they could to get to work.

After disasters like the Boston Marathon bombing and Hurricane Sandy, hospitals have bulked up their preparedness plans, FierceHealthcare previously reported. This week's blizzard shines a spotlight on the creativity of Boston-area hospitals.

The main focus: getting doctors in and patients out.

A statewide travel ban, along with immobilized subways, made it nearly impossible for hospital staff to report to work. About 375 Brigham and Women's Hospital staffers spent the night at the hospital in preparation for the storm, according to the Boston Herald.

Two Brigham and Women's radiology nurses, Heather Macaulay and Pattie Ricciardi, caught a ride to the hospital with the Boston Police Department, the Herald reported. The nurses were among a dozen or so staff members to accept the Boston PD's offer of rides.

One Brigham's doctor chose to ski to work instead. Emergency medicine attending physician Kelli O'Laughlin, M.D., wearing lights and a reflective vest, skied 2 1/2 "sort of eerie" miles to reach the hospital, according to the Herald.

But doctors weren't the only ones who refused to be deterred by the storm. In Nantucket, despite losing power, Danielle Smith and her doctors successfully delivered Cayden Keith Moore, a healthy 6.5-pound baby, according to Live 5 WCSC.

Discharging patients has been another challenge for snowed-in hospitals.

Matt Kaplan and his wife, Thaleia, an English couple studying in the U.S., had their first child at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but their temporary American insurance only covers a two-day hospital stay, and Thaleia was set to be discharged Tuesday night, the Boston Globe reported.

Hospital administrators found a room for the new family free of charge because "that's the right thing to do," according to hospital spokesman Michael O'Connell.

Back at Brigham and Women's, the hospital teamed with Boston's Fallon Ambulance Service to ferry patients home. "The ambulance would drive them home once the hospital made sure that snow removal was done so they could enter the house and that they had electricity when they got there," said hospital spokeswoman Lori Schroth, according to the Globe.

To learn more:
- read the Boston Globe article
- check out the Boston Herald article
- here's the Live 5 WCSC coverage

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