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OhioHealth Leads Community Collaboration to Prepare for Total Eclipse

There’s one month to go until the solar eclipse is expected to draw record crowds to Ohio. The big event will culminate months of emergency planning and community collaboration to make sure area residents and visitors have access to the healthcare services they need. 

On Monday April 8, 2024, a solar eclipse will cross North America – with many Ohio counties located on or near the path of totality. Hardin County is directly on that path. Starting at 3:10 p.m. – and lasting for about four minutes – people in Hardin County will be able to see the moon cast its shadow on Earth as it passes between the Earth and the Sun. The moon will appear to completely obscure the Sun. 

Ohio is accessible to most Americans with a one-day road trip. Even smaller airports across the state are hearing interest from people who want to fly in for the event. That’s why the state is anticipating record crowds, especially in areas on or near the direct path of totality. 

Several of OhioHealth’s 15 hospitals are located on or near the direct path of totality. Those communities are expected to see their populations swell in the days leading up to the eclipse. It’s estimated that some communities, like Kenton, home to OhioHealth Hardin Memorial Hospital, could see the population nearly double or even triple. In Kenton specifically, hotels have been booked up for months. 

For more than a year, hospital leaders have been meeting regularly to discuss the potential impact the influx of visitors could have on emergency departments. Measures have been taken to make sure the hospitals are prepared. Examples of those measures include stocking up on critical supplies to offset any unexpected shipping delays and adjusting staffing needs in emergency departments. 

“We’re worried about traffic gridlock,” said Michelle Wright, Senior Consultant, Safety & Environment of Care for OhioHealth Marion General & Hardin Memorial Hospitals. “We’ve been planning for this for well over a year now. It’s definitely an all-hands-on deck approach.” 

Wright explained the hospital is conducting additional decontamination training, as Kenton and Marion can have rail traffic transporting potentially dangerous chemicals. 

“We’re trying to think of everything and anything that could be a possibility,” said Wright. 

A significant component of OhioHealth’s solar eclipse emergency preparedness plan is collaboration with other community organizations, like the Hardin County Chamber of Business Alliance, the Kenton-Hardin Health Department, local emergency services, and Ohio Northern University

“Through collaboration between OhioHealth Hardin Memorial and our community partners we are ensuring a safe and prepared approach to the solar eclipse, emphasizing the power or unity in safeguarding the wellbeing of our Hardin County residents,” said Joy Bischoff, president of Hardin Memorial Hospital. 

One example of the collaboration: OhioHealth is partnering with Ohio Northern University’s mobile buses to provide first aid at the eclipse viewing event that’s taking place at the Hardin County Fairgrounds. 

“The Hardin County Chamber and Business Alliance appreciates the commitment by OhioHealth to make the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse a safe and memorable experience for visitors to the area and for the residents of Hardin County,” said Tabitha Young from HCCBA. “We have worked to stay informed regarding county-wide eclipse response planning to make sure that we have access to the most reliable information regarding the Hardin County eclipse experience. We hope to be able to provide timely and accurate information regarding the eclipse, including information about emergency and medical services, as well as viewing and entertainment details.”

A list of eclipse related events and viewing locations, created by HCCBA, can be found online, here

The last time a total solar eclipse happened in Ohio was in 1806. According to NASA, it won’t happen again for another 75 years.

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