While the headlines about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy earlier this week seemed to focus on "dodging a bullet," don't tell that to the thousands of hospital teams in Maryland who were prepared to handle the worst and, in some areas, are still feeling the effects of the storm ("Maryland's lucky break," Nov. 1).
The 95,000 people who work in Maryland's hospitals listened to the radio and television reports about businesses and offices shutting down in preparation for the storm. And then they found a way to get to work, because their place of business never closes. They came in knowing they might be there for days at a time, they slept on gurneys and they worked double and triple shifts. In other words, they did what it takes to take care of their neighbors. That's their mission.
Examples of those who did not "dodge a bullet" are Crisfield on the Eastern Shore, where the McCready Foundation continued taking care of patients even as rising tides and rain waters flooded the town; and Garrett County Memorial Hospital in Western Maryland, where more than two feet of wet, heavy snow brought by Sandy caused trees that were already barely anchored in the saturated ground to topple, taking with them power lines and closing main highways. But the hospital did not close. Taking care of people never stopped.
These are just two examples of what was happening all across the state, in our cities, in our suburbs, in our rural areas — everywhere. This is the role of your local hospital. It is there every day, 24 hours a day, taking care of the sick and injured, reaching out into the community to make people healthier, and doing it with the care and compassion and the expertise that you deserve and need. On clear days and snowy days, dry days and flood days, calm days and storm-wracked days, hospitals take care of people no matter what, they stand ready for any contingency, they are ready for anything because you might not be. What better investment can there be for the people of Maryland?
As one hospital leader told me in the middle of the storm, "I have a great hospital full of great people, and it is times like these which confirm why we do what we do."
Carmela Coyle, Elkridge
The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association.