Sandy posed few problems for area hospitals

    Across the region, hospitals fared well during the superstorm.

    Some executives said their hospital backup plans worked smoothly. Others said they didn’t need them at all.


    Virtua in Camden and South Jersey Healthcare and several other medical centers had staffers who came in early or stayed overnight, just in case they were needed.

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    “The 7 p.m. shift on Monday that was probably the most risky time for us to be able to get staff in,” said Michael Cotzen, Virtua’s executive vice president for population health management. “We ended up accommodating between 400 and 500 of our own employees.”

    In Lewes, Del., the patient count was low in the emergency room on Monday.

    “Somewhere between four, five, six patients at any one time, because the weather conditions were so poor, nobody was in a position to travel,” said Jeffrey Fried, president at Beebe Medical Center.

    The ER census was back to normal by Wednesday.

    In New Jersey, a few extra people showed up at the Lourdes Health System emergency departments in Camden and Burlington County, but chief operating officer Mark Nessel said there were no serious storm-related injuries or illness.

    “Some people were on oxygen and were worried about the fact they didn’t have electricity or other home treatments, we call them social patients because they wouldn’t typically come into the ER, but they do have medical needs,” Nessel said.

    Lourdes Health System President Alexander Hatala said the hospital staff worked ahead to preserve critical medicines at physicians’ offices and care locations in the community.

    “We were concerned about the loss of electricity at those sites, which don’t have backup generators,” Hatala said. “So the staff was forward thinking in going to those sites and bring those medications, vaccinations back.”

    With public transit canceled in some places and road closures on Monday, several hospitals provided patients transportation home.

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