Accreditation

Case Study: Winter Storm Jonas

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, January 1, 2019

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A look at how local hospitals prepared for and managed the inclement weather

Consult your emergency management plan when facing an impending storm, and update this plan with lessons learned after each storm to avoid grappling with problems that may already have solutions. This is just one of the lessons reinforced for hospitals that were impacted by Winter Storm Jonas (aka “Snowzilla”) back in January 2016.

It’s been a few years since Jonas smothered the East Coast, so here are a few facts to refresh your memory:

  • 14 states received over a foot of snow. Seven of them saw over 30 inches of snowfall, including places like New York’s JFK airport and Allentown, Pennsylvania.
  • West Virginia received 42 inches of snow.
  • At the time, Jonas was the biggest single snowstorm on record for at least six locations.
  • 11 states declared a state of emergency, and 13,000 flights were canceled.
  • More than 80 million people were affected by Jonas, with at least 55 deaths attributed to it.

As the storm approached

First word of the storm's intensity and potential snowfall began on a Monday. The same day, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) began sending messages to staff about storm preparations, says Leonard Taylor, senior vice president of operations and support services at the medical center, located in downtown Baltimore.

“The initial message was directed at individuals and their personal readiness,” says Taylor. “The emergency manager continued to monitor weather forecasts and provide updates to the hospital leaders” as the week progressed.

By Wednesday, the senior vice president responsible for emergency management notified the logistic section chiefs on the hospital incident command team to make sure all operational leaders had connected with suppliers and were stocking extra food, oxygen, linen, ice melt, and other essentials in anticipation of the storm.

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