February 17, 2011

Blizzard, Babies and Business as Usual at Scotland County Hospital

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 February 1st and February 4th, 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, along 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 stand-by, as always, while other essential departments such as dietary, housekeeping, respiratory therapy, radiology, lab and admissions employees 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 areas 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, due to the half wall on the sidewalk in the construction zone. Although maintenance staff shoveled snow and applied salt, round 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 snow plow escort for the ambulance or for doctors if needed during the blizzard. During the first 48 hours of the blizzard, the EMS Department increased their staffing to three man crews, 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 February 1st - 4th 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." Even with the mountains of snow and below zero temps following the Blizzard of '11, construction crews continue to make progress on the Hospital's renovation and expansion project.

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