If you live in the north, you know about snow days. Your kids feel cheated if there aren’t a few each winter. Parents juggle to find backup plans when school closings are announced. If your employer is quick to close when there is a major storm or tells you to work from home you may breathe a sigh of relief. You’re just glad that you don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to shovel out your driveway and try to get down your unplowed street.
But hospitals never close, nor can they or should they. The everyday heroes I want to recognize are everywhere at the University of Michigan Health System. The nurses who pulled a double shift because their colleagues couldn’t make it in to relieve them. The support staff throughout the hospital who ensure patients are cared for, in a safe, clean environment. The diligent teams who ensure there are meals for patients and staff. There are too many to mention but just think about all the hospital staff you see on a normal day – they all keep the hospital operating like nothing happened.
And behind the scenes are other support teams such as our IT staff. Whether or not they were deemed “essential” years ago, they certainly are now. They ensure the network is up and running, the hardware housed in the data center is stable, the calls are answered at the service desk, desktops and printers are repaired, the phone system is working, the application infrastructure supporting the clinical systems is stable, and much more.
Some of my IT staff were already working this past weekend dealing with an unrelated incident before the first snowflake hit the ground late Saturday night signaling the beginning of over 24 hours of snow, cold, and wind. It was a snowstorm that swept through a large area of the Midwest and then moved east dumping even more snow on cities and towns that already had a few feet from last week’s storm.
Our Incident Management System (IMS) Storm Team held numerous calls through the weekend and into Monday reviewing operational readiness and addressing staffing gaps to ensure business as usual. This is winter in the north. We prepare the best we can and then we execute on our plans. And we learn what needs to be improved and tweaked for the next storm.
These stories were repeated in many cities. It is all part of running a hospital that never closes. To all of you in the business of delivering health care on the frontlines or behind the scenes, I say thank you. You are the everyday heroes!