Winter Storm Warning: Hibernation Ahead!

By Mary Beth Sodus, RD/LD,ACE-CPT/RYT
Personalized Bariatric Nutrition Coaching
Center for Weight Management and Wellness

With a few days notice that a snowstorm is on its way, you’ve probably had time to make a run to your local grocer to stock up on essentials and favorite foods. Like a bear who eats as much as possible to store up calories for a long hibernation.

Bears need those extra calories for an extended period of no eating or drinking, but most of us will not. We’re more likely to eat because we’re inside and bored.  Here are some tips to avoid setting a trap for yourself:

Healthy Hibernation Habits

  • Practice mindful eating. Ask yourself this question:  What am I really hungry for?
  • Think: Are you eating from emotional triggers or true physical appetite?
  • Pay attention to boredom eating versus physical hunger. Physical hunger builds gradually, occurs several hours after a meal and eating results in a feeling of satisfaction.
  • Boredom eating can be triggered by the sight or smell of food, watching cooking shows or just because something tastes good.

To avoid that winter weight:

  • Focus on healthy and wholesome stews, soups or chili with a lot of vegetables.
  • Pause between each bite to focus and enjoy the sensation of eating.
  • Cultivate a strong support system that includes family and friends that you can call on.
  • Make sure to stay hydrated. The human body is approximately 75 percent water and needs every drop to function, especially if you are outdoors.

As you hibernate from winter’s cold, snow and wind, know that you can stay healthy for the warmth of spring in Maryland.

Mary Beth Sodus is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a personal trainer and expert in all things healthy.  She provides personalized bariatric nutrition coaching in the University of Maryland Center for Weight Management and Wellness. 


More Staff Storm Stories: Just “Another Ordinary Day”

Editor’s Note: Below are two stories from staff about their experiences during the recent blizzards.

By Kathy Berge
Senior Occupational Therapist, Psychiatry

There have been many ordinary days in the midst of extraordinary circumstances due to the snow this year. Each storm has become a bit more challenging to navigate, but with a little thought and planning and several dedicated coworkers there was no disruption of Occupational Therapy services in Psychiatry. I can truthfully say that this experience has really made me take note of how our department exemplified the Commitment to Excellence (C2X) initiative and the “WE CARE” standards.

When the predictions were made for this last storm, we were all told to make our best effort to make it into work. After the 1st smaller storm of snow and ice transformed my just-shoveled walking path and road into a snow covered mess, I began to shovel again to prepare for the ride to work. I then set my alarm for 3:45 a.m. Driving 10 to 15 miles an hour for about 1½ hours, I was able to arrive to work safely and on time.

The next challenge was navigating from the garage to the hospital on foot through all the ice and snow. After watching my coworker fall and break her ankle the day before, I must admit that I was feeling a bit vulnerable. As I entered the turnstile door, I gave a sigh of relief and was greeted with a usual smile by security. “So good to see you,” he said. Just a reminder for me that this is another ordinary day in the midst of extraordinary circumstances, as I am typically greeted this way each day I arrive.

When I entered the units, I found life as usual and many familiar faces. People carried on with their jobs and worked as a well-oiled team to assure best patient care. I was thrilled when 3 others from my small department appeared from behind the white crystals that were adhered to their eyelashes, hair, coats and bags. You see, they walked to work through all the ice and snow, taking short breaks when they could no longer see due to the ice assaulting their face! What an incredible staff!!

Together we were able to strategize as to how to provide services for each patient attending in-patient and day-hospital programs with only 40% of our staff! All the services were provided as usual with no interruption in care. When our work was done, we were informed by our director that the governor declared a state of emergency and that we should make arrangements to stay at the Marriott. In appreciation for a job well done, our director paid for our rooms so that we would be safe and comfortable!

In the midst of my ordinary day, I realized that the extraordinary was not the snow but all the special and dedicated people that I work with, making UMMS my destination employer of choice.

By Lijie Wang, RN, BSN, CNII
Nurse on the Surgical Acute Care Unit

I would like to share my inspiration during the snow emergency.

Chief Nursing Officer Lisa Rowen really earned my respect. I was called to work in the first snow emergency because I live close to UMMC. On Saturday afternoon, Lisa showed up in our unit to make sure everything was fine and to thank us. I was extremely surprised to see her, and asked her how she came to work during the blizzard. She told me she stayed at UMMC on Friday night. Around 8 p.m., I went to pick up my food voucher and met her again in the learning center, where she was helping to arrange meals and lodging for others.

I was deeply inspired by Lisa. She not only motivates the nursing team to deliver the very best health care to our customers, creates a work environment that allows us to achieve goals like the Magnet Designation, and helps us advance care through innovative research and education, but most importantly, she leads the nursing team by example.

On Sunday, I was inspired again by another two leaders: [Director of Safety] Jim Chang and [Clinical Practice Coordinator] Michael Harrington. They came to our floor as volunteers to clean the trash from patients’ rooms due to the shortage of housekeepers. They demonstrated the values of respect, integrity, and service through leadership by example, especially in the crisis situation.

Thank you very much for Lisa Rowen, Jim Chang, and Michael Harrington for inspiring me.

UMMC CEO Thanks Staff for Dedication During Blizzards

By Jeffrey A. Rivest
UMMC President and Chief Executive Officer

February 10, 2010

Dear Colleague:

Early this morning I had the pleasure of visiting many of our patient care units and support departments to personally thank the hundreds of dedicated staff who have done heroic things for our patients during the past five days — through two record-breaking blizzards! I was moved by the positive energy and dedication of each staff member I saw. It was beyond description!

As we know, the University of Maryland Medical Center plays a vital role as an essential, tertiary level health care resource for the State of Maryland. Our eleven ICUs, Shock Trauma center, advanced diagnostic services, emergency services, and all of our patient care programs are essential, life-saving resources for our entire state. With this vital role comes the responsibility that, in times of crisis, we must continue to deliver the same high-quality service that is expected of us every day. This is what you’ve been doing, and I greatly appreciate your efforts.

I am proud to tell you that yesterday, as this second storm was beginning, UMMC and our fantastic teams cared for 119 admissions, along with hundreds of emergent visits and procedures. These patient volumes reflect a typical day for us. We didn’t skip a beat — thanks to you. It is truly amazing what can happen when talent, passion, and commitment come together through our special staff members to accomplish wonderful things.

The efficient patient flow has been possible because of the several hundred staff members who stayed at or close to the hospital to ensure their presence when needed. Last night we accommodated over 200 staff members in-house through sleeping arrangements in various locations including the hospital, Paca/Pratt building, and other non-clinical facilities. Hundreds more of our staff recognized the importance of remaining close and stayed at nearby hotels.

Our entire management team has been actively contributing, and we have a top-notch group of Directors and Managers running our Emergency Command Center. We are fully focused on maintaining a strong infrastructure of support for our physicians, nurses, technicians and all care providers. And let me add a special thanks to all of our valuable support staff –- you are doing a wonderful job of supporting our care providers so we can continue to provide excellent patient care.

Indicators show that, by tomorrow, we will begin coming out of this enormously challenging storm. With one last push to get through tonight, we should begin to see a return to what we consider to be “normal” business tomorrow.

Today, we can all be extremely proud of all staff and physician colleagues at UMMC. You are simply the best!


Jeffrey A. Rivest
President and Chief Executive Officer

Preparing for a Blizzard

By Jim Chang
Director of Safety

“The Medical Center is always open” is the operational motto that we strive toward. We plan and prepare for situations such as blizzards to make sure we can serve our patients regardless of the weather or event.

Our preparations begin with identifying what can happen to us — yes — blizzards are on the list. We then develop response plans that talk about notifying key staff, mobilizing resources, staffing, etc.; train staff; and we test them in periodic disaster drills.

For this storm in particular [which produced a Baltimore record 21.1 inches of snow over two days, and 20.5 inches on December 19 alone], we identified the threat early in the week and were taking all of the right precautions such as ordering extra food and supplies, notifying staff, and talking with our community partners.

Our challenge was with the severity of the storm — on Wednesday and into Thursday, no one (weather forecasters included) believed that this would be a record breaker. As we saw the predictions worsening with each hour, UMMC leadership and staff responded to the challenge.