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During the snowstorm

February 7, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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The snowstorm started Friday morning. Looking out the window, it appeared that it was falling from a dump truck in the sky. The flakes were large and heavy and it did not slow much during the day. I wondered if enough aides would show up for afternoon shift—and was surprised that we were fully staffed.

Lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, I was concerned. The afternoon shift aides were leaving and I wondered how many night shift aides would be here. The flash of a power outage woke me a little after midnight. Contemplating having no power during a severe snowstorm sent a shiver down my spine. Luckily the power blinked back on a few minutes later when my answering machine loudly reset itself.

I was worried waiting for dayshift aides to arrive. Some will not travel during a Level 2 or 3 snow emergency and others will not ride in someone else's vehicle. I hoped they had driven carefully because the area around is quite hilly. The dayshift aides told me we had six aides in the building and one on the way. The knot in my stomach relaxed some and I breathed easier.

The night shift nurse said the director of nursing had been here all night and had left around 5:30 a.m. to pick up a nurse, an aide, and a cook. We were told breakfast would be delayed, due to the cook's late arrival. During the morning only two dayshift staff arrived. We had only one nurse on each unit and housekeeping made do with one housekeeper and the maintenance man.

Saturday morning was extremely quiet. We had 10 to 12 inches of snow and it was still coming down. As the snow slowed, the high winds blew and another couple of inches fell. I was relieved there was sufficient staff, especially aides, in the building. I wondered how their drive home would be.

We were under a Level 3 snow emergency which dropped to Level 2 at 2 p.m. Several staff did not make it in Saturday. Those who were here tried not to talk about the storm. But I could sense their anxiety. Most did not drive themselves so they would be picked up.

Two afternoon shift aides were an hour and a half late because they had slid into a ditch. Two dayshift aides had to stay until they showed up. The main highways were pretty clear but some back roads had not been plowed. Nevertheless, people were out and going after being homebound for over 24 hours.

This storm is over and today (Sunday) the sun has been out. The blowing snow looks like shiny diamonds illuminated by the sun.

It is supposed to warm into the 30s this week and there is a chance of more snow on Tuesday. I hope it will not be another storm like this one.

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Comments

Beautiful description of the snow event and the unfortunate way it can put a stop to the needs of patients. It opens our eyes to the needs of new guidelines to be in place (if not already) that will be put into motion when any natural disaster (snow included) occurs. Thank you for the picture. I hope everything clears up!

Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...