By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published February 20, 2014
ATLANTA—Three weeks ago during the last week of January, the first snowstorm of 2014 had the same impact on Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta as the rest of the metro area. The hospital staff named the second massive winter storm, which arrived Feb. 11, “Snow Jam Part 2.”
The severe weather the second time around included continuous sleet, snow and ice during a 48-hour period. At one point, roads were shut down due to treacherous conditions with only emergency vehicle access permitted.
Hospital employees again pulled together to provide the utmost in quality care for their patients, including the successful completion of more than 80 surgeries.
Mary Beth Spence, senior manager for media relations for the hospital, said team members worked wherever they were needed. Work included assembling linen packs, de-icing the sidewalks, stairs and driveways on the campus.
Other staff, including CEO Scott Schmidly, chief mission services officer Sister of Charity of St. Elizabeth Rosemary Smith and laboratory director Kris Gregg assisted food services workers to serve hundreds of meals in the cafeteria.
Nearly 300 employees were unable to travel safely home during the storm and spent each night in various sleeping areas around the hospital. This ensured seamless care for the 228 patients. Other teams of employees donned housekeeping uniforms to scrub rooms, collect dirty linen, empty trash and do whatever necessary to assist.
The hospital provided meals for discharged patients, their family members as well as visitors until the roads were cleared, and in some instances also secured transportation home for those in need.
Emory Saint Joseph’s also provided needed prescriptions for employees and patients stranded at the hospital.
Elaine Boone, manager of radiology services, and her team were another of the many examples of teamwork in the facility during the ice storm. Each radiology staff member who could safely travel to work contributed one canned good to make vegetable soup for the department’s Souper Bowl Wednesday.
“The teamwork at our facility has been incredible,” said Schmidly. “Our employees displayed tremendous support, leadership and a commitment to Saint Joseph’s. Through their many acts of kindness and generosity, they made so many sacrifices to care for our patients.”
Saint Joseph’s volunteers were also on hand to help. Rusty Bradley, a dedicated five-year volunteer, was undeterred by the treacherous roads. Eager to help hospital employees, Bradley jumped in his truck and drove to the hospital to open and operate the gift shop for two days. The first day, he sold nearly $500 in merchandise to patrons.
Staff teamwork was also crucial to helping the residents at St. George Village in Roswell during the storm.
According to executive director Mark Lowell, the “care partners” who couldn’t go home were housed in empty apartments, the auditorium, and even in the marketing models. Lowell also expressed thanks to Msgr. Stephen Churchwell for use of empty rooms on the priest wing at St. George Village.
Staff leaders made a shopping run to buy economical yet filling foods including pancake mix and hot dogs to keep those who deliver care nourished. This food run allowed the residents’ food supply to last.
Lessons were also learned during the second bout of snow. “We learned that the St. George Village ATV that hauls trash is a huge support for us in a storm like this,” said Lowell. He also said they would be purchasing tire chains to allow for transport of nurses who live locally for any future inclement weather situations.