Boston hospitals battle snow to get staff in, patients out

Patient Safety Monitor Insider

February 11, 2015

With record snowfalls piling up in over the last couple weeks, Boston hospitals faced a transportation crisis during the last snowstorm January 9, according to a report in the Boston Globe.

The problem: facilities couldn't get staff in and patients out. According to the report, surgeries have had to be canceled because there weren’t enough beds, and taxis hired to ferry patients who had no other way home. At another hospital, stockpiles of linens were apparently running so perilously low that staff began rationing them. Some hospitals had to rely on the generosity of Boston police officers to deliver essential staff members to work.
Adding to the problem was the fact that the city’s subways and commuter rail systems were closed for a day, stranding staff members and making it difficult for patients to get home. At Massachusetts General, surgeries were canceled and the hospital paid taxis to take patients home, the report said. In addition, managers at the hospital went door-to-door on their drive into the city, picking up as many colleagues while other employees slept overnight on cots in conference rooms because they worried they wouldn’t make it back the next day.