Hospitals Brace For The Solar Eclipse 2024

3 Min Read Published April 3, 2024
Hospitals Brace For The Solar Eclipse 2024

While millions will marvel at the breathtaking phenomenon of the solar eclipse that will take place on April 8, 2024, healthcare professionals and hospitals are taking precautions to ensure they are adequately prepared to manage potential challenges and ensure patient safety during this extraordinary event.

Hospitals Prepare For The Solar Eclipse

Hospitals around the country, and especially in hotspots that attract solar eclipse tourists, have been preparing for the influx of visitors, increased traffic, and possibly cell phone connectivity issues for months.  Here are a few examples. 

AdventHealth Central Texas has been preparing for the solar eclipse for 6 months. Those precautions include, 

  • Cell phone backup systems due to the massive streaming of the event
  • Traffic control around the hospital
  • A perimeter around the hospital
  • Providing rooms for hospital staff to spend the night at the hospital
  • Additional staffing in the ER

“Our emergency department will have additional staff for the possibility of an influx of patients with emergencies,” President and CEO Kevin Roberts told local news. 

Rochester Regional Health in Rochester, NY, has been preparing for the eclipse for over a year and had a drill last year to prepare for a mass-casualty event during the eclipse. They are mostly concerned about traffic gridlock and an increase in boaters on Lake Ontario. The hospital will be increasing its staff and is prepared to accept ambulances by air or land. 

RGH and the other hospitals in the system are activating their Incident Command Centers in preparation for the upcoming eclipse. These specialized teams are trained to swiftly respond to any severe emergencies that may arise during this celestial event. According to reports, RGH initiated its Incident Command Center on six separate occasions last year, underscoring the importance of proactive readiness in the face of potential crises.

Premier Health/Upper Valley Medical Center in Troy, OH is another hospital that is preparing for the eclipse. As with many hospitals, they are mostly concerned with the increased traffic. The hospital is asking patients to move their appointments to virtual meetings if possible due to the potential traffic delays. 

“We have emergency operations plans in place to manage all types of situations and will use those to guide us in determining needs for the eclipse. We are also partnering with our local (emergency management agency) and the Premier Health system to ensure that we can deliver care to our patients in the community,” Trish Wackler, UVMC chief operating officer and chief nursing officer told local news.

Potential Challenges for Healthcare Professionals

For nurses and healthcare facilities, the eclipse presents unique challenges, particularly concerning patient care and safety due to increased traffic gridlock, more tourists, and large crowds. Here are some key precautions many hospitals are enacting, out of an abundance of caution, to prepare for the solar eclipse,

  • Patient Education: Inform patients and staff about the potential risks associated with observing the eclipse directly, such as eye damage from looking at the sun without proper protection. Emphasize the importance of using certified solar viewing glasses or indirect viewing methods to safeguard their vision.
  • Staffing: Anticipate increased patient inquiries and potential emergencies during the eclipse. Ensure that hospitals are adequately staffed, with additional personnel on standby if needed. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to staff members to streamline patient care and response protocols.
  • Safety Protocols: Develop and communicate clear safety protocols for patients, visitors, and staff during the eclipse. This includes guidelines for outdoor activities, such as restricting non-essential outdoor procedures during the peak eclipse hours and providing shaded areas for those observing the event.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Review and update emergency response plans to address any potential surge in patient volume or unforeseen circumstances during the eclipse. Ensure that essential medical supplies and equipment are readily available, and staff are trained to handle various medical emergencies effectively.
  • Communication: Establish efficient communication channels within the hospital and with external agencies to coordinate response efforts and disseminate critical information during the eclipse. This includes maintaining contact with local authorities, emergency services, and other healthcare facilities to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing if needed.

Understanding the Eclipse

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, completely obscuring the sun from view. The path of totality, where the sun is entirely covered by the moon, will traverse several regions, offering spectators a rare spectacle lasting several minutes. However, even outside this path, a partial eclipse will still be visible, making it a significant event for communities worldwide.

As the world prepares to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of the April 8 eclipse, nurses and hospitals play a crucial role in ensuring the health and safety of their communities. By proactively addressing potential challenges, implementing effective safety measures, and fostering collaboration with stakeholders, healthcare professionals will be able to navigate the event with confidence and provide exceptional care to those in need.

Angelina Walker
Angelina Walker
Director of Nursing Content and Social Media

Angelina has her finger on the pulse of everything nursing. Whether it's a trending news topic, valuable resource or, heartfelt story, Angelina is an expert at producing content that nurses love to read. She specializes in warmly engaging with the nursing community and exponentially growing our social presence.

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