RalphAs I’ve said on many occasions, one of the key reasons UPHS is such a highly respected organization is the extraordinary dedication and commitment of our staff. The latest confirming evidence on this comes in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Often at great personal sacrifice, you came through for our patients and your colleagues, and for that I am truly grateful.

I have heard numerous examples of physicians, nurses and staff  taking extraordinary steps to ensure that they arrived for work and ready to help others in need. These range from the more than 800 individuals who slept over at all of our hospitals to a staff member who walked for hours from Germantown because he didn’t want to let his team down.

Nurses who lived nearby opened their homes to colleagues so they could get to work the next day and offered to work another’s shift to avoid travel complications.  Many others volunteered for double shifts. People walked long distances in the rain because there was no public transportation and arrived at the hospital soaking wet -- and apologized for being a few minutes late. MICU fellows at HUP slept in bunk beds to make sure there was always adequate supervision in the intensive care unit.

Our Home Care and Hospice Services team performed wonderfully, visiting patients throughout the weekend and most of Monday, under sometimes difficult weather conditions. They made sure all patients on life sustaining therapies had back-up power and resources to hold them through the potential power outages. Social workers worked hard to get discharged patients home early in the day on Monday before the worst of the weather started. 

Members of CCA practices went out of their way to notify and reschedule patients. Most of the practices reopened Tuesday afternoon, often with extended hours to accommodate patients. Even practices still without power didn’t stop CCA doctors from seeing their patients. They temporarily relocated to nearby sites.

Safety and emergency management personnel did a terrific all-around job in ensuring that we were well-prepared for Sandy’s punch. Preparations were put in place days before the storm.

Command Centers at each hospital were up and running for almost 36 hours to field phone calls and inquiries, and to provide guidance to staff as conditions deteriorated. Physical plant was ready with extra staff members and supervisors to quickly respond to reports of serious leaks or other problems. (Fortunately, there were none.)

Even our partners from outside the Health System went the extra mile. Emergency generator contractors and elevator vendors stayed overnight and our construction affiliates had plywood and other supplies ready -- just in case.

As a result of all of these efforts -- and the many more that I am aware of and the countless others that flew under the radar -- we made it through Hurricane Sandy without any significant disruption to patient services. And under difficult conditions all of our hospitals operated at near normal capacity. Not even Sandy could stop a heart and a liver transplant at HUP performed during the height of the storm.

The staff response at all of our facilities was outstanding. People stepped up when needed -- and in most cases without even being asked. All of you, to a person, once again demonstrated why UPHS is such a special place. I can’t thank you enough for your remarkable response.