Always Prepared to Respond
When the country has faced its worst public health crises, Sinai Hospital has always been ready to respond with the compassion, knowledge, and ingenuity that has defined its history for more than 150 years.
1918 Influenza Pandemic
Maryland had its first cases of the influenza pandemic on September 24, 1918, when a small number of influenza cases among soldiers at Camp Meade–some 25 miles north of Baltimore and en route to Washington, DC–were reported to military medical officers. Like all the hospitals in Baltimore, Sinai Hospital—then The Hebrew Hospital—was inundated with cases of viral infections. While Dr. John D. Blake, Baltimore’s health commissioner, was relatively unconcerned about the spread of the so-called “Spanish flu,” Hebrew Hospital’s superintendent, Dr. H. J. Moss was a vocal critic of Blake’s lax approach. Dr. Moss pointed out that, while the hospitals were reaching capacity, theaters and cinemas were full with very little response from the health commissioner.
Despite debate in the public forum, Hebrew Hospital staff continued to treat flu patients. Inevitably, 50% of the hospital's staff became infected as well.
The State of Maryland announced its first cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus, on March 5, 2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.
True to its history of always responding to the city’s worst health crises, Sinai Hospital provided a robust response to the COVID-19 pandemic that soon engulfed Baltimore. On March 17, Sinai halted all elective surgical procedures and severely restricted visitors. These measures were to ensure the safety of Sinai’s patients and personnel, as well as to preserve Sinai’s capacity in the event of a surge.
The surge did come, and on April 12, 2020, the State of Maryland first released the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 by zip code. Because of Sinai's location in one of the hardest-hit areas, and in order to handle the COVID-19 high-risk groups, the hospital and staff went into action to meet the challenges within the community. For example, Sinai erected overflow patient capacity facilities in its parking lot, set up testing locations, held drives to secure 100,000 masks for staff, and conducted telemedicine triage to continue providing medical care remotely.