Friday, January 11, 2013

Weathering the winter at the MGH

Preparing for winter weather – and other weather-related events – is essential at the MGH. Tom Herrmann, administrative manager of MGH Emergency Preparedness, offers tips on how MGHers can best be prepared and stay productive.

Q. How does the hospital prepare for storms?

A. The MGH is open 24/7 even during snow emergencies and other weather-related events, and all employees are considered essential personnel. The recent Hurricane Sandy, particularly the storm’s impact on New York and New Jersey, was a great example of how important hospital workers are during weather emergencies. At the MGH, department managers determine whether their area is properly staffed or needs additional help. Following this evaluation, the MGH may activate the Labor Pool, a group of MGH employees who are able and willing to assist with tasks outside their normal job duties if they are not needed by their regular department.

MGH Emergency Preparedness personnel work closely with city and state officials to ensure the most updated information is available to plan for the storm. They also work collaboratively with other departments in the hospital to ensure everyone will be able to support operations. This includes working with Buildings and Grounds, Environmental Services, Nutrition and Food Services, Police, Security & Outside Services, Materials Management and Patient Care Services to evaluate needs and guide hospital operations.

All staff are encouraged to review their department’s Emergency Operations plan with their supervisor and know their responsibilities during a severe weather event or any other type of disaster.

Q. How do employees know if they need to come in for scheduled shifts during a storm?

A. All MGHers should assume their practice or department will operate as normal unless otherwise notified. If staff are unable to get to work, they must notify their manager and use earned time hours as this is not considered an excused absence. The safety of MGH employees and the safety of patients is always a primary concern. It is every employee’s responsibility to use personal judgment to decide if they can safely make it to the hospital for work. Please remember if you report to work and are unable to get home, the hospital will provide basic sleep accommodations, including air mattresses and blankets. If public transportation is disrupted, look for Daily Broadcast emails for updates on possible modes of transportation and alternative parking arrangements.

Q. What are the best ways to stay informed?

A. Watch local news reports for road closures and other critical infrastructure information. There also are many ways to stay up-to-date on the impact of storms on hospital operations:

  • MGH Emergency and Severe Weather Line at (617) 724-6100
  • Daily Broadcast emails and updates posted to
  • Social media updates on Twitter @massgeneralnews and Facebook,

•  MBTA service delays can be found on

Q. What are tips on how to weather severe storms?

A. Ways to plan ahead and stay safe during storms include:  

  • Keep cell phones charged. When not in use, put them on standby mode or turn them off to conserve the battery.
  • Smartphone applications can very useful in severe weather situations.
  • Allow extra time traveling to and from work.
  • Wear proper clothing when outside and consider what to bring to work if you may not be able to get home immediately after your shift.
  • Make a contingency plan with your family in the event of a storm or commuting delay, and also create a pet care plan.

Read more articles from the 01/11/13 Hotline issue.

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