Herald file photo
St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway and three others in proximity to the Five Towns ensure that staff can continue treating patients during a snowstorm.
The snowstorm that hit the Five Towns on Feb. 13 didn’t affect daily essential emergency hospital operations, as they followed plans already in place for inclement weather situations. While nonessential services like elective surgeries and follow-up doctor visits get cancelled, hospitals still remain open.
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside, Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System that runs Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream have emergency protocol they follow in the event of a snowstorm. These plans include proper staffing; ensuring there is enough food, water and medical supplies; maintaining backup power sources filled with sufficient fuel; accommodating patients and staff unable to leave hospital grounds; and communicating with them throughout the storm.
Before following their established emergency plans, the hospitals monitor weather and road conditions around the clock, with the ultimate goal to maintain daily operations and community safety. “Anything that may disrupt our daily routine or prevent essential deliveries made to our hospital, we institute this plan,” said Dr. Rajiv Persaud, the emergency medical services coordinator for St. John’s. “Due to the severity, we make proper arrangements whether it’s snow, extreme heat or a hurricane.”
In the event of a snowstorm or weather emergency, hospitals prioritize patient needs and plan staff accordingly, said Terry Lynam, a spokesman for North Shore LIJ. “Elective surgeries have been canceled on a day like this,” Lynam said. “A cardiothoracic surgeon to perform heart surgery is a priority, so accommodations would be made.” Lynam said the hospital has more than 80 emergency vehicles available to bring in that surgeon stranded off property during a travel ban.