Washington County and Red Cross open three shelters

October 29, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE |
  • A cot with some snacks and water for those who may have to evacuate their homes is set up at a shelter opened at North Hagerstown High School. Three shelters have been opened by the Red Cross in Washington County.
Photo by C.J. Lovelace

The American Red Cross and Washington County officials opened three shelters on Monday afternoon, and Meritus Health medical professionals had contacted many chronic care patients who need dialysis or chemotherapy to make sure emergency plans were in place during Hurricane Sandy, officials said.

People who use oxygen tanks, and lose their power, can go to one of the shelters or call their local fire department, county spokeswoman Sarah Lankford Sprecher said. The fire departments are in communication with the county’s emergency operations center and can help those residents get to a shelter, she said.

The two main shelters, at North Hagerstown High School on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown and at the Hancock fire hall at 3 Fulton St., are for people who feel the need to leave their home because of power outages or other issues, Sprecher said.

A shelter for people with special medical needs was opened Monday afternoon at the Western Maryland Hospital Center, at 1500 Pennsylvania Ave., according to an email from Sprecher.

The Hancock shelter is pet-friendly, according to the email. People bringing pets to the North High shelter are asked to bring pet carriers as the Humane Society of Washington County is taking pets to the Washington County Ag Center.

As of Monday afternoon, the Tuesday surgery schedules at Meritus Medical Center and the Robinwood Professional Center surgery center have been delayed one hour to ensure patients are driving during daylight hours, Meritus Health spokeswoman Nicole Jovel said.

However, if the hospital or Robinwood surgery center lose regular power, the site that loses regular power will cancel elective procedures leaving backup power available for emergency cases, Jovel said.

The hospital has multiple generators and remains open, Jovel said.

“We are and continue to be the safety net for patient care in this community,” Jovel said.

There also is backup power at Robinwood Professional Center’s surgery center, urgent care center, and for the cancer center’s pharmacy where the drugs are stored, Jovel said.

As of Monday afternoon, the urgent care center in the Sylvania Centre, on Pennsylvania Avenue, was expected to open Tuesday, Jovel said.

Dialysis was done at the hospital on Monday, Jovel said. Meritus officials contacted other local dialysis agencies to determine which have emergency power, she said.

Fresenius Medical Care Robinwood Dialysis is not regularly open on Tuesdays, according to its voicemail. The service is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Fresenius has a hotline for patients who need help with emergency plans or need to arrange an alternate dialysis clinic, according to a Fresenius news release. The hotline number is 1-800-626-1297.

On Monday, Meritus Home Health officials visited their priority one patients, those who cannot care for their IV or infusion treatments themselves, to go over emergency plans, Jovel said.

In general, Meritus Health officials have looked at treatment plans for all patients and prioritized any outpatients who might need service, making the backup plans that can be made, Jovel said.

The John R. Marsh Cancer Center, at Robinwood Professional Center, was open Monday to provide chemotherapy care, Jovel said.

Medical officials are monitoring the storm hour by hour, Jovel said.

No decision had been made yet as to whether the cancer center will be closed Tuesday, Jovel said Monday afternoon.

Meritus officials are not going to put any patients in a potentially harmful situation so doctors evaluated cases so patients’ care would not be negatively affected if the cancer center is closed Tuesday, she said.

Meritus’ physician practices were open Monday afternoon and the plan was to open Tuesday, but that could change, Jovel said. The plan for Tuesday was for physician offices to open at the time of their first scheduled appointment for the day, so they might open later than usual, she said.

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