How Southcoast Health Mobilized for a Powerful January Winter Storm

St. Luke's in the Snow

How Southcoast Health Mobilized for a Powerful Winter Storm

At Southcoast Health, when a fierce blizzard blows through with high winds and lots of snow, like the storm on Saturday, Jan. 29, staff from across the health system prepare to keep hospital doors open and stem any disruption to patient services.

Preparing for a blizzard is a team effort 

When the forecast first predicted a severe winter storm heading for the South Coast, teams across Southcoast Health quickly jumped into action.

On the frontlines and behind the scenes our dedicated essential staff demonstrated their commitment to the community, making sure hospital services remained uninterrupted and available to provide exceptional care for patients in the region.

Days before the storm was expected to arrive, the Southcoast Health Emergency Preparedness Team met regularly to monitor the situation and implement storm safety measures. As the storm got closer, each department worked together to prioritize the safety of staff and patients and to ensure all Southcoast Health hospitals and emergency facilities would remain open for patient care.

Emergency Services

Medical emergencies are often unpredictable, and the Emergency Department remained prepared to accept patients at all times. “During the storm, we were in constant communication with our emergency response partners to ensure resources remained available to the public,” says Bill Tavares, ED Resource Nurse at Charlton Memorial Hospital. “The ED staff also came in early to ensure the continuity of patient care and support their team.”

St. Luke’s Emergency Department Team working during the blizzard

Many dedicated staff members slept over at the hospitals both Friday and Saturday night to guarantee they would be here to care for our patients. Some even prepared to stay for multiple days at a time.

Additionally, as the storm continued bringing strong winds and snow, Emergency Medical Services provided rides to ED staff so they could safely report for their shift.

Support Services and Public Safety

Behind the scenes, the Southcoast Health Support Services team ensured our facilities would be accessible to patients. Preparing in advance this team managed materials and coordinated supply deliveries. When the storm arrived, they tirelessly cleared snow throughout the storm and into the evening and the following days at all hospitals and locations while continuously monitored power outages at all satellite facilities.

Keeping on top of the snow, the team readied driveways, parking lots, and walkways near our emergency departments, surgical center, and other critical locations.

Once all essential buildings were cleared, they readied our Urgent Care Centers, Dartmouth COVID vaccine site, and other office locations. Our facilities team made it possible for our outpatient locations to resume patient care quickly and safely as the weather conditions improved.

The Public Safety Team was also onsite during the storm, keeping our patients, providers and staff safe and assisting with shoveling and snow removal.

Laboratory and Imaging Services

Caring for our patients during the blizzard, members of Laboratory and Imaging Services are two examples of the many teams on hand and prepared to ride out the storm from the hospital.

In the Lab, Lauren Viera, Evan Marsocci and Jiali Cheng came in early for their shifts and prepared to stay for two nights. Lauren even slept at the hospital the night before her Saturday 7 am shift to make sure she would be ready to help her patients and team.

Many team members staying at the hospital picked up extra shifts to help keep others off the roads in dangerous conditions, demonstrating the importance of caring for both patients and staff during the storm.

The lab manager Sandy set up cots for them with pillows and left trays of fruit and muffins and coffee as a way to say THANK YOU!

Evan, Jiali and Lauren

On the Imaging Team, Sandy Clermont, Linda Canuel and Carrie Almeida arrived early and ready to stay at the hospital for the duration of the storm. Sandy doesn’t usually work weekends, but knew her team was short and volunteered to come in.  Like many of our staff, they spent time the day before the storm ensuring their families would have what they needed so they could leave to take care of the patients who needed their care here at the hospital. All three packed bags, including breakfast lunch, and dinner, prepared to stay overnight in order to care for our patients.

Sandy, Linda and Carrie

Urgent Care

When the most severe weather had passed, the Southcoast Health Urgent Care team arrived first thing Sunday morning to prepare for a busy day of patient visits. Before opening, the team helped shovel and salt the walkways for patient safety, as well as transported vaccines back to the Urgent Care Centers from the hospitals after the storm.

Overall, with more than 18 inches of snow accumulating in most parts of the South Coast region, our teams were prepared and kept essential medical services operating smoothly for patients. Thank you to all our doctors, nurses, technicians and essential staff who tirelessly worked through the storm to keep our emergency services open and provide essential community care.