The first flurries bring out the kid in many adults who hope their offices announce a snow day. But nurses, doctors and other hospital employees are ready to trek through the wintry conditions to ensure local hospitals' operations are unaffected by the storm.
"When you are responsible for the care of patients," said Temple University Hospital President and CEO John Kastanis, "You have to be ready for the worst possible situation at all times."
Temple University Hospital implemented the first phase of its emergency preparedness plan - Code White Level 1- around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Kastansis said. At that stage managers review emergency procedures, check for potential gaps in coverage and notify senior staff of any holes so the hospital has the proper number of employees scheduled at all times.
In the suburbs where more snow is expected to accumulate, Main Line Health System is also ready for whatever Mother Nature throws our way.
"We are accustomed to dealing with weather emergencies and we have learned to plan effectively to ensure proper staffing," said Robert Feinberg, the health system's director of emergency preparedness.
Both Temple University Hospital and the Main Line Health System - comprised of Lankenau Medical Center, Bryn Mawr Hospital, Paoli Hospital, Riddle Hospital, Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital and Mirmont Treatment Center - consider staff safety a priority.
The hospitals begin encouraging employees to cushion travel time, discussing considerations for their families and recommending preparation tips early to avoid issues the day of the storm.
Plus, accommodations are available for those concerned about driving home on snowy or icy roads only to return a few hours later for their next shift.
Feinberg says nearly 100 staff members spent the night at one of the system's hospitals during Superstorm Sandy.
Regardless of the forecast, both hospital officials say there is no possibility of under staffing.
"Our Emergency Preparedness Team as well as each hospital's administration monitors the weather on an ongoing basis to update our staffing as necessary," Feinberg said.
Kastanis adds, "It is part of the standard of care."