Life in Northeast Missouri may have ground to a halt for the most part during the historic snowstorm earlier this month, but area hospitals had to remain open at any cost. In some cases, that took some fancy footwork.
Below is a neat account of blizzard business from the folks at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis. The story it tells speaks for itself, I think. (And I love the term “not just a blanket, but a mattress of snow.” A mattress!)
Although the U.S. Postal Service did not deliver mail during the blizzard, Scotland County Hospital’s dedicated doctors & nurses delivered babies during the Blizzard of ’11. Between Feb. 1-4, three babies were delivered at Scotland County Hospital in Memphis, and a number of inpatients were cared for as if it were business as usual.
Sarah Picolet, the mommy of one of the babies, recalls, “We left home at 5:30 a.m., and it was snowing pretty good. We got to the hospital at 7 a.m., and Cathy Farley greeted us at the door. By 1 p.m., Dr. Davis delivered our baby girl.”
Picolet and baby girl went home on Thursday to snow drifts on their gravel road near Bloomfield, as high as their vehicle.
Picolet said, “Cathy Farley stayed overnight, and so did some others. I was safe and comfortable, and they all did a great job.”
Haley Marie, by the way, is a healthy 5-pound, 15-ounce little girl and was oblivious to Old Man Winter. Picolet is the manager of the Casey’s General Store in Lancaster.
With food and supplies in stock and four-wheel-drive vehicles gassed up, the hospital’s Director of Nursing, Carla Cook, and Maintenance Supervisor Jamie Kice, with cooperation from a number of other employees, made sure that nurses and other essential healthcare staff could make it in for their shifts, while nearly 10 nurses, doctors and staff members opted to stay overnight or get a motel room in town to ensure adequate staffing. The Operating Room crew was on standby, as always, while other essential departments such as dietary, housekeeping, respiratory therapy, radiology, lab and admissions staffed their usual assignments and covered extra shifts.
Despite the effects of the powerful snowstorm that shut down many of the communities the hospital serves, the massive snowstorm did little to disrupt hospital operations.
“Hospitals can’t close,” said Kice. “It may seem obvious, but we are prepared for disasters like this and we all pitch in to lend a hand.”
Scotland County Hospital managed to operate as normal despite the blizzard that dumped not just a blanket, but a mattress of snow on the area. All inpatient units stayed fully staffed during the Blizzard of ’11. Many of the hospital’s essential staff members put the work of the hospital above their own lives and their own families.
Throughout the blizzard, robust drifts continued to block the door at the main North Entrance because of the half-wall on the sidewalk in the construction zone. Although maintenance staff shoveled snow and applied salt around the clock, Cook made arrangements with the Scotland County Care Center to use their entrance temporarily for hospital patrons.
“There’s a level of cooperation among the staff here,” said Cook. “At all levels, you could see the cooperation and how everybody was pitching in, including the cooperation of the Care Center.”
Cook took a call from the county road & bridge supervisor offering a snowplow escort for the ambulance or doctors if needed during the blizzard. During the first 48 hours of the blizzard, the EMS Department increased their staffing to three-man crews and had snowmobiles on standby, along with access to a Patient Evacuation Sled. Although staffing was increased, the calls decreased and the Ambulance crews made only one emergency run between Feb. 1-4 and three patient transfers. The Emergency Room reported a lower-than-normal number of patients during the same timeframe, with 18 patients compared to an average ER population of approximately 40 patients for a four-day period.
“The dedication of our staff to make sure the quality of care we offer to our patients went uninterrupted is to be commended,” said SCH CEO Marcia Dial. “Thanks to smart planning and dedicated employees, the hospital operated without incident during the Blizzard of ’11.”
Once the storm subsided, construction crews went back to work on the hospital’s renovation and expansion. One has to imagine it’s much easier work now that the extended forecast is full of at least 40-something temperatures (not to mention that beautiful 70 on Thursday!).