How a hurricane brought a hospital team closer together


It turns out that South Carolina is having a busy hurricane season. Recently, Charleston County was under a mandatory evacuation in anticipation of Hurricane Matthew. All I-26 lanes were converted into westbound traffic, gas stations were running low on fuel, and the local Wal-Mart was out of bottled water. It was T-minus 3 days to the landfall of Hurricane Matthew, with very variable predictions on the trajectory, speed, and strength. In the meantime, hurried preparations were being put in place for patients and care team members alike at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital.

It is times like this that I am reminded of the selfless and stoic nature of health care team members. Countless numbers of our team stayed in town and prepared to “defend in place” for an unknown period of time. Many of us were separated from friends and family, unable to look after our kids, homes or pets. But without question, those on the “A” (essential personnel) team reported for duty without a complaint, accepting that this was par for the course for working in an acute care facility. It is times like this that we should reminded of why we are afforded such respect in our society.

T-minus 2, and the storm loomed towards Florida, with several different models predicting vastly different outcomes for Charleston, ranging from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane. Team A remained in high spirits, as we all tried to figure out how we were going to eat and sleep for the next several days. Some inpatient units from the older buildings moved to completely new areas of other buildings, concerned about the integrity of large windows and leaking ceilings. All units double-checked their water supplies, battery stocks, and flashlights; facilities and engineering staff ensured emergency plugs were functional and generators were backing up if needed.

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