On January 27th, New England was the target for one of the first (of what would be many) big snow storms of the season. Businesses closed, roads shut down and public transportation came to a halt.
Although others were forced to shut their doors, hospitals in the area still had patients to care for and health emergencies requiring attention. So, while most area residents ran to the store, stocked-up on food and prepared to hunker down in preparation for Winter Storm Juno, a dedicated group of health care workers was preparing to weather the storm with their colleagues.
Employees at South Shore Hospital (SSH)
—a 378- bed acute care hospital located in Weymouth, Mass., that provides acute, outpatient, home health, and hospice care to the state’s southeast residents—recognized that the impending storm would wreak havoc on travel and traffic in and around the region. They also knew that despite the closings and cancellations of area businesses, hospital operations would not—and could not—stop. To ensure patient care remained unaffected by the weather outside, more than 400 employees at the organization chose to come to work before the storm hit to make sure they would be present for their shift the next day.
“What sets us apart is our culture,” said Susan Romano, patient experience consultant for South Shore Hospital. That culture, she explained, is what led
staff members representing all disciplines to pack their bags and “check in” to the hospital—which they dubbed “Hotel SSH”—the night of the blizzard. The hospital arranged specialized areas to serve as “guest rooms” and provided cots, mats, sleeping bags, blankets and pillows. Using conference rooms, classrooms, offices, and every possible nook and cranny, the organization created makeshift dormitories, and every staff member was given, or rather found, a spot to call it a night.
Thanks to the willingness of employees and staff to trade the comfort of their own homes for a rectangle of floor space and an unplanned pajama party, as well as those who braved the elements to walk, snowshoe or ski to work and others who provided safe transportation for patients to and from the hospital, patient care at the hospital continued uninterrupted throughout the storm.
Functioning as a team to meet patients’ needs is challenging during the best of conditions, but caregivers who rise to the occasion and work together during times of crisis are a true reflection of the mission to deliver safe, continuous quality care to every patient, every day.