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Hospitals Prepared for Hurricane Sandy by Bolstering Infrastructure

October 30, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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As some hospitals felt Hurricane Sandy’s wrath to the fullest extent, others on the eastern seaboard prepared for the storm by bolstering their infrastructure.  At least two hospitals had contingency plans that involved backup data servers, generators, and on-the-clock patient care and infrastructure staff.

John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston, said to Healthcare Informatics, that he kept close track of Hurricane Sandy as a weather station operator for the town of Sherborn, Mass. He said he used this data to “ensure our readiness, watching wind speeds, rain fall rates, and barometric pressure changes.”

In addition, Dr. Halamka, said BIDMC multiple data centers “with diverse power feeds including one from an independent power generating station that supplies the Harvard hospitals (Medical Area Total Energy Plant).” The hospital also has 36 hours of fuel for its generators and the capacity to roll up a generator to any of our data center buildings.  

In New Jersey, one of the states hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, Hackensack University Medical Center also took several precautions before the storm landed. The Level II Trauma Center and National Incident Management System (NIMS) prepared by protecting critical pathways with exterior windows, getting extra batteries for biomedical equipment in patient care units, backing up essential equipment with a generator, and putting staff for infrastructure on site, around the clock.

In terms of communications, the hospital said multiple redundant vendors provided communications from multiple feeds.