Despite Hurricane Sandy, care goes on at area hospitals

Update: Hopkins said outpatient services at Johns Hopkins Hospital, including those at satellite offices, wiill be closed Tuesday.

 Area hopsitals continued to care for the sick Monday, despite a storm roaring outside.

Doctors were performing surgeries and nurses making patient rounds even as the winds and rain progressively worsened.

Mercy Medical Center had 60 surgeries on the docket and planned to complete them all. They were offering patients with surgeries on Tuesday free hotel stays close to the hospital so they could make it in.

The emergency room at Greater Baltimore Medical Center was fuller than normal as hospital officials suspected they were getting patients whose doctors’ offices were closed.

“It’s pretty much business as usual,” said Johns Hopkins Hospital spokesman Kim Hoppe.

Area hospital had generators ready to ramp up if the power went out. Power is especially important at hospitals where patients are attached to life-saving machines that need electricity to operate.

Nurses, doctors and other staff were prepared to stay overnight and work extra shifts if colleagues couldn’t make it in because of the storm. Hopkins said it would transport staff that couldn’t make it in on their own.

GBMC set up a command center and stocked up on medicine and food in case delivery trucks couldn’t get to them.  The hospital expects a surge of patients after the storm.

“People are going to go out and clear trees and clean up and they are going to get hurt,” said Michael Forthman,  GBMC vice president of facility and support.

At Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson,  workers ordered extra supplies of medication for patients and planned to be prepared to visit dying patients even as the storm worsened.

They had moved at least on patient who gets care at home to an inpatient facility to cut down on the risk of complications.

“When you have 600 patients you have someone at any  given time who  is actively dying,” said Gilchrist clinical director Regina Bodnar. “Our goal is to attend 100 percent of deaths.”

They planned to have hospice workers strategically located at their offices in Towson and Columbia. Four-wheel drive vehicles would be available for workers to get out if needed.

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