April 16, 2024

La Ronge Northerner

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Local hospitals are preparing for a total solar eclipse

Local hospitals are preparing for a total solar eclipse

Local hospitals are preparing for a total solar eclipse in Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A total solar eclipse in Rochester is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and for that reason, there's no guide on how to make sure everyone will experience it as safely as possible. That's why our local hospitals have been preparing for the eclipse for the better part of a year.

Hospitals and emergency responders are planning an influx of up to 500,000 additional people into our region.

“We want to make sure that we are prepared to handle any increase or potential increases in volume, and interestingly, our experience with the PGA has shown that we have not had that big of a spike in volumes, yet we prefer to be over-prepared,” says David Chaffetz, team manager. Strong Memorial Hospital Emergency Preparedness:

The biggest concern for eclipse day is traffic. If subsidized, healthcare workers may not be able to get to work, and patients needing emergency services may be delayed.

“With the flow that would be on either the Thruway, 490, 590…if an accident happens on one of those main roads, traffic will be diverted, and it will go to places that are not readily available,” says Robert Johnson, senior director of emergency preparedness for Regional Health. Rochester: “This flow of traffic.”

Both systems will perform normal daily discharges early on the day of the eclipse in hopes of avoiding any additional traffic on the road at the time of totality. A number of helicopter landing zones have also been established around the area which can be used in critical situations if traffic makes regular ambulance transfers difficult.

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If cell signal becomes an issue, hospitals have coordinated special channels and radios to be able to communicate with first responders. They're paying special attention to where the largest clusters in the area will be located — places like Innovative Field, RMSC, Regional Market, and SUNY Brockport.

“We know that our strong emergency department in Brockport, we're likely to see an increase in volume. So, we're hiring staff there and the same thing here at Strong. In fact, one of the things we're doing is we're putting a number of providers on Standby – Extra people are on call, so if we need to call in additional staff, we are ready to do so, he says.

The advice given to healthcare staff who have to work in person on the day of the eclipse is something we should all follow.

“Think of it as you would a winter event, a snowstorm, or anything else in that way,” Johnson says. “Make sure, because if they're stuck in traffic, make sure they have the necessities. Make sure they have medication, maybe some food or entertainment or a book or something else.”

None of the major health systems have asked providers not to schedule routine visits for the afternoon of the eclipse, but since most of the region is off spring break, volume will likely be slightly lower than on normal days.