How Hospitals Prepared for the Solar Eclipse

Saint Vincent Hospital Rochester Regional Health Rochester General Hospital. A man and child sitting outside wearing exlipse glasses look up at the eclipse

The rare solar eclipse that arced across a wide swath of the U.S. on April 8 briefly turned millions of pairs of eyes to the sun — and kept many hospitals and health systems on their toes preparing for contingencies.

Health care providers held emergency drills, beefed up their ED staffs, and planned ahead for traffic gridlock that might prevent their people from getting to work, offering accommodations and food to workers who wanted to stay overnight at the hospital to avoid missing their shifts.

In New York, Rochester Regional Health supplied its care teams with handheld radios and Government Emergency Telecommunications Service cards, which give the hospital priority access to networks just in case the unusual solar activity hindered normal communications.

At the same time, Rochester General Hospital was among those who recognized that while their care teams were focused on preparing for potential health needs during the eclipse, they were also eager to join in on the excitement. The hospital threw a viewing party and offered people specialized glasses to safely watch the eclipse.

In Pennsylvania, Saint Vincent Hospital is provided staff with space-themed goodie bags, and its labor and delivery department made custom “solar eclipse onesies” for babies born on April 8.

The 2024 eclipse turned out to be a mostly trouble-free event nationwide, but health leaders say they would rather have caregivers on standby and be ready than have a problem materialize and not be able to meet a need.



Resources on the Role of Hospitals