Tracy Cates, certified nursing assistant at St. Luke’s Hospital, reserves cots for staff who planned to stay overnight at the hospital to care for patients during inclement weather. (photo submitted by Kathy Woodham)
Tracy Cates, certified nursing assistant at St. Luke’s Hospital, reserves cots for staff who planned to stay overnight at the hospital to care for patients during inclement weather. (photo submitted by Kathy Woodham)

Archived Story

St. Luke’s Hospital employees bunkered down for weather

Published 4:21pm Thursday, February 13, 2014

While a light blanket of white surrounded St. Luke’s Hospital, many employees prepared to sleep under hospital blankets so they can be ready to take care of their patients, regardless of the snow and ice that covered the ground.

“When you’re snuggled in at home, watching TV, I’ll be here sleeping on a cot,” said Marlys Schmutz. The ward clerk for the medical surgical unit at St. Luke’s had reserved a former patient room so she could be sure to make it to work by 6 a.m. Wednesday.

Biomedical engineer Jeff Gillespie had reservations for a two-night stay at the Days Inn just down the street, while employees in the surgery department reserved several cots placed around the hospital’s classroom.

As shops and restaurants, offices and schools closed because of inclement weather, the staff and administrative team at St. Luke’s continued to prep for Wednesday’s surgical cases, rehab therapy, blood draws, CT scans, medications, food and anything else that was needed for general patient and emergency care.

Some, like Nancy Bailey, came in early to prepare the hospital for the storm — she was expecting a load of fresh clean linen at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning — while Ernie Bautista in the lab stocked extra units of blood.

“We were prepared and ready for the weather,” said Ken Shull, chief executive officer. “It’s been a few years since we’ve had such projections for snow and ice, but many of our staff have fond memories of Dr. (Jim) Holleman picking up staff in his SUV to help them get to work. This was a different experience, sleeping on cots in the hospital, but their dedication to their patients is nothing new,” Shull said.

Piles of sheets, towels and blankets were available for the staff who decided it best to stay overnight with the patients they care for. Boxed meals were also prepared as the engineering department monitored the storm.

Polk County’s EMS Service, first responders and St. Luke’s Emergency Department were staffed and ready for any emergency, whether an automobile accident on treacherous roads or chest pains that interrupt a peaceful night at home.

As they reported for work, many with a suitcase and pillow in hand, they left the comfort and conveniences of home, a warm bed and a remote-controlled television to watch the evening’s weather report.

– article submitted
by Kathy Woodham

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