One possible side effect of Hurricane Florence? Babies. Or rather, women delivering babies.
Approaching hurricanes are stressful, and although Hurricane Florence isn’t set to hit Maryland directly, it can still cause heavy rain and flooding. Stress can cause a lot of things, said nurse Erika Linden, manager of Frederick Memorial Hospital’s Labor and Delivery Unit, and when there are changes in barometric pressure, her unit tends to see more patients, she said.
For women who are expecting, preparedness is the key, especially if they were planning on a hospital birth, Linden said. Women are advised to talk with their birth partners and plan their route to the hospital based on past flooding. And if there’s an emergency, they shouldn’t hesitate to call 911.
The hospital will work with expectant mothers and those whose babies have already arrived. The hospital may be able to discharge the mother and infant early so they can get home safely. Or they might be able to stay longer at the hospital to avoid traveling if it is unsafe.
“It’s about making sure they are safe getting here or safe getting home,” Linden said.
The emergency department at Frederick Memorial Hospital doesn’t tend to see more patients during inclement weather, Christina DeRosa, director of emergency, respiratory and sleep services, said in an email.
“We are here to serve regardless of the weather. Use good judgment as to the need to travel, or call EMS. Let’s keep as many folks off the road during bad weather as we are able to,” DeRosa said in the email.
But over at Meritus Medical Center, which is a trauma center, there is an increased number of patients due to car crashes or other accidents, said Katie Salesky, emergency management specialist.
Meritus spokeswoman Joelle Butler said that despite any inclement weather, the hospital will remain operating 24 hours a day.
DeRosa said in the email that sick people can call their primary care provider or go to immediate care. More serious illnesses, chest pain or shortness of breath should likely be treated in the emergency department. That applies regardless of the weather, she said.
For women with newborns at home, they should make sure they have supplies in case of power failures. Linden said they should have food and water. For mothers who pump breast milk, they should make sure they have a hand pump. Those that use baby formula should also make sure they have the necessary supplies, she said.
In the case of a power failure, mothers should also explore the option of staying with a friend or family member whose power is working.
And while the hurricane is not supposed to affect Maryland as seriously as earlier predictions suggested, Frederick Memorial Hospital and Meritus Medical Center are prepared. At Meritus, staff is checking their generators and ordering more supplies in case they receive more patients. Staff will be put up in hotels or stay at the hospital if they cannot commute due to the weather, Salesky said.
“We’re doing everything we can to make sure our facility, staff is prepared,” she said.
DeRosa said in the email that the staff members will watch the weather and come in early if needed. There will be places for staff to sleep at the hospital if they have to stay, and Linden said she expects her department to be adequately staffed.
“And I find that typically staff gets here as [do] patients. So it works out well,” she said.