South Jersey hospitals ramp up for pope’s Philly visit
With the impending arrival of Pope Francis this weekend in Philadelphia, many South Jersey hospitals are working with planning officials to prepare for the huge crowds and expected logistical hurdles.
For months, nearby hospitals have been plugged into the planning of this major event, which is nearly on par with the Super Bowl.
"These type of events require planning, coordination, attention to detail," said Kerry McKean Kelly, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Hospital Association.
She said the the biggest anticipated problem is the traffic and the potential gridlock resulting from it.
In response, some hospitals are stocking up on supplies in advance, boosting staff levels and taking measures to ensure employees will be present for their shifts.
"They are almost approaching this like they would an impending snowstorm," she said. "The staff might be spending some added days at the hospital, just in case traffic and access does become a big issue."
Kelly said while the New Jersey side of the Ben Franklin Bridge will serve mainly as a staging area, huge crowds are anticipated.
"We've really focused on preparing Camden County, the hospitals serving that region, in anticipation of a swell of people in that community," she said.
While the circumstances are a bit unprecedented, Kelly reminded that hospitals, by nature, are tasked with being prepared for all major events, so it has become more routine for them to be ready.
Pope Francis will hold events in Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and Sept. 27.