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Staffing during a snow emergency

January 10, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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It has been predicted that this winter will be the worst in 25 years and we have already have had more snow than usual. This past week we had a winter storm advisory that threatened snow, single digit temperatures, and high winds. The first day of the advisory staff checked the lobby television frequently for weather updates. All staff seemed on edge and most of us residents could feel it.

For some it meant that their children were out of school and other arrangements had to be made for them. For many others who live in this rural part of Ohio it meant a slow trip home with a snowstorm showing its vengeance.

We never know whether the weatherman will be right when he predicts major storms. But the facility has to make sure that we have enough staff. Most of the staff was afraid they would get stuck here, unable to go home, because the next shift could not get here.

Thursday afternoon when the roughest weather hit us, I think some of the staff, particularly the aides, realized that they would just stay here. The dietary staff decided to have a slumber party of sorts so they would be here to prepare breakfast the next morning. Three afternoon shift aides stayed over and worked a double shift until 6 a.m. The director of nursing and another nurse with a four-wheel drive vehicle brought a nurse in to work nightshift.

On Friday most staff made it to work. However, some staff will not drive in a Level 2 snow emergency and others have spouses who do not want them to. So they not only felt stress from the snowstorm but also from their family members.

We were lucky in the snow was not nearly as bad as most thought it would be. But 3 to 5 inches fell on the hilly area around us. Low temperatures are still upon us and maintenance here is concerned about keeping the pipes from freezing and keeping the building warm.

Mother Nature is showing her fury and it is only January.

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Kathleen Mears

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