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Hospitals never close. Why? Quite simply, they can ‘t. At least, that is the expectation placed on healthcare systems. Besides, where else would people go to receive the emergency medical attention they need? Especially, during times of a crisis, like the weather events that result in massive amounts of snow.

It’s been widely covered in the media about how Texas and other southern states in the U.S. were surprised and ambushed by brutal winter snowstorms. We know people are without water, without electricity, and are struggling. Amidst all the media coverage, however, we’ve seen some impressive and inspiring stories about nurses and healthcare workers who are doing whatever it takes to get to work so that their patients can be cared for, and their coworkers can get a break.

Whether these nurses and other healthcare workers are receiving crisis response pay for the work they are doing, they are certainly taking on the role with grace. We appreciate these unsung heroes and want to share some of their stories.

Crisis Response Nurses In Austin, Texas 

Reports of nurses in Austin walking in freezing temperatures through the snow to get to work came into KHOU 11, a TV station in Texas. One nurse, Brooke Wilson who is a nurse in the Labor and Delivery Unit at the St David’s Women’s Center of Texas is one of those nurses.

“I bundled up and I put on my boots and I changed my shoes and I already packed a bag thinking I was going to be staying here for a while. So, I packed a bag and I headed out and I started walking.”

She also said that she was concerned about the patients and her coworkers and that baby’s come when it’s their time no matter the weather.

“Babies aren’t waiting for anybody, but there’s emergencies happening all the time. So, we have great people all over the hospital that are helping keep things going. I didn’t want to let them (her coworkers) down. I didn’t want people to be spread thin. That’s not safe for patients. It’s not safe for us. It’s much more emotionally draining if you have to take on a higher patient load just out of necessity because of the emergency situation that we’re in.”

Amy Belknap, an oncology nurse manager at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin reported walking to work in the frigid conditions almost a mile from her home. She further reported another colleague having walked two hours in the snow to get to work, while another who lives close to the hospital came in on her day off. Belknap further stated,

“I have slept for two hours, but I am not unique in this situation,” she said. “We’ve been rotating staff so that we can give everybody breaks and take turns. And I’m really proud of the team up here. We have just been looking out for each other and helping each other out throughout this very unusual time.”

Crisis Response Nurses in Lewisburg, Tennessee

In Lewisburg, long-term care facility administrator for NHC Derrick Scott has been dedicated to patients and employees alike. He’s been braving the snow and icy roads to pick up and take nurses and healthcare employees to several different senior centers. As of Friday, February 19th, he’s driven over 1,000 miles and given rides to more than 60 staff, and when a food truck couldn’t get to the facility, he went and got the food loaded into his truck to deliver it. 

Crisis Nurses Working Jobs in Nashville, Tennessee

For nurses in Nashville who need help to get to work, Jack Jones and a group of volunteers have been giving rides to nurses. He reports nurses sleeping on floors at the hospitals if they can sleep at all due to the workload.

Nurses Wesley Greene and Tiffani Jones who work at Ascension Saint Thomas Hospital Midtown report positive feelings about how their group is handling the difficult conditions. Nurse Greene stated that she’s been driving her husband’s vehicle that has four-wheel drive and is giving rides to coworkers.

“I have my husband’s 4×4 truck. We’ve all just done a great job of taking care of each other, and it really is like a family. It’s amazing to see how dedicated the healthcare workers are, I think that we’ve seen that over the last year with the pandemic and everything that we’ve gone through.”

Nurse Jones indicated that management staff are helping out as well,

“It’s been really awesome. On our calls every morning that we do, we’re just getting names of people who need help, and everyone’s pitching in. And it’s been really cool to see the higher-ups come together and get out there, and help people too.”

No Snow Days for Nurses

This isn’t the first time a winter storm has made it difficult for nurses to get to work. But it does perhaps bring light to the value of being prepared. Schools can close for snow days, and other occupations can perhaps work from home on a snow day, but nurses are essential. In the past, there have been quick viral stories about a nurse skiing into work, or a nurse driving a plow truck to clear the road along the way.

Your position as a nurse also makes you a trusted source of information to your patients. Talk to them about wearing layers, and how the air between layers will help serve as an insulator. Encourage them to do things outside in pairs when possible instead of alone. Explain how moving faster isn’t the way to go in the cold because they can overexert themselves quickly; slow and steady with frequent breaks are better. 

Put blankets and flashlights in the car. For some these tips may seem too little too late, however, moving forward they could save a life. Be mindful of your patients with heart disease or diabetes and their medications. Remember, some medications for those conditions can predispose a person to hypothermia. While you’re conducting some patient education, be sure to make a note of these things for yourself as well. Don’t shirk your self-care. 

PRN Nursing Shifts for RNs, LPNs, and CNAs Available Now

Take a look at our PRN shifts that are available now in real-time. This storm has hit hospitals and facilities hard and while some nurses can find rides or trudge through the snow, staffing is a concern. If you can safely get yourself to work, browse our postings and see what facility near you is in need.

Written by Miranda Booher, RN

Miranda is a 13-year registered nurse with a healthy background in travel nursing and healthcare marketing. She brings an interesting combination of stellar copywriting skills and first-hand nursing experience to the table. Miranda understands the industry and has an impeccable ability to write about it. And speaking of travel - Miranda currently lives in Uruguay, though she maintains an active Registered Nurse license in the state of Ohio and stays current on the latest healthcare news through her writing. When she is not creating killer copy, or serving others through her work as a nurse, you can find her hanging out on the beach with her devoted husband, three beautiful kids, and their guardian Shepsky, Ashes.

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