SILVER SPRING – As if there weren’t enough potential Y2K computer problems already, Debbie Hagopian has to grapple with the possibility that she may be giving birth when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
“I’m really worried. This could not be the best time to have a baby,” said the Anne Arundel County resident.
Apart from the potential computer shutdown, “which doctor would want to be in the hospital on the eve of the millennium?” asked Hagopian, 37, of Churchton.
But hospital officials around the state are assuring patients that they will have extra staff on hand and are prepared to deal with any Y2K-related glitches that may arise.
The Peninsula Medical Regional Center in Salisbury, for example, is increasing its labor and delivery staff by 10 percent to ensure a smooth transition into Y2K, said Cathy Finch, manager of special care nursery and pediatrics.
A recent survey of 50 hospitals in the state by the Association of Maryland Hospitals and Health Systems found that the 36 who responded were “overwhelmingly confident” that computer issues would not disrupt Y2K services on New Year’s night.
Mike Hall, spokesman for Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, said the hospital has tested over 5,000 devices to make sure everything is in order.
“Our only problems can come from power and water, and the suppliers are assuring us everything will be fine,” he said.
Mary Lou Baker of the Anne Arundel Medical Center said the hospital will increase its staff on New Year’s Eve, especially since it expects a rise in the number of expectant mothers to be admitted that night.
Despite the assurances, though, some worries linger for prospective parents.
Courtney Smith, an Anne Arundel Community College student who is due on New Year’s Day, said she is worried that a power outage could throw traffic signals off, complicating the drive from her home in Annapolis to the hospital in Silver Spring.
Her boyfriend, Kenny Beath, 19, did not seem to share that concern. A computer student at the community college, he pointed out that preparations to deal with any problems have been on for years.
“Everything should be all right,” he said, putting a reassuring arm around her.
John Filler, who is expecting a baby boy on New Year’s Day with his wife, Becky McDermott, is playing it cool.
“I think of it this way,” said Filler, 29, a University Park resident. “If there is a Y2K problem, the hospital should be the safest place to be in.”