Patient Care: Snow Storms


For years, I have never let bad weather keep me from getting to the hospital and making my rounds.  When I was a resident, I was always able to get in.  I never had a snow day.  When I took a year off to practice in a small clinic in Baltimore, the staff had planned to close on a snowy day.  I made it in.  I found out that the Pharmacist lost the bet.  The “Southern Bell” had made it in.

I was always in the hospital either because I could walk or if it was bad enough I was driven in by my husband. He was dubbed “Nanook of the North and me as his “Snow Queen” by a friend and hospital administrator.  I would get the calls from my stranded colleagues and I would spring into action, going through the hospital seeing patients, writing orders and running to the ER to do the admissions.  I would spend the whole day seeing patients.  I even got special treat of free food.

One year on the eastern shore, we had to make it through the Ice storm that paralyzed the whole east coast.  I made it from the office to the hospital slowly driving behind my trusty Physician Assistant who was stuck in the office with me because we had so many patients that day.  When I got to the hospital, the ER was packed with patients who had slipped on the icy sidewalks and needed their fractures managed.  I sprang into action and  I did pre-op evaluations while the orthopedic surgeons set the fractures.  My husband and son were home.  I finally made it to my house hours later.  The next day, the hospital had volunteer drivers who could pick me up.  It was the wife of one the Cardiologist who had a four wheel drive vehicle who made it to my house.

The grocery store scene the day before a snow storm has always baffled me.  I never knew why people purchased so much bread and milk. I would go in to pick up a few things but was always afraid to get too much.   The worst year, we lost power and heat.  Living in a 100 year-old house near the Choptank River was cold.  Our friend brought us Chinese food from the local restaurant that still had power.  I was thankful that my son was not a picky eater. I had so many patients in the hospital and the beeper was non-stop with calls.  Remember in the early 90’s, cell phones were not in wide spread use.  The one I used was the old bag phone.  My car was snowed in.  My husband tried to did it out but the ice was so thick. Even when we moved to Chattanooga, I seemed to be the only one in my group who could make after the rare snow fall.

Today as I look out on the winter wonderland, I have nowhere to go.  I shopped yesterday, we have power and I have no call or patients in the hospital.  I am not worrying about how I can get into the hospital to check on patients in the ICU, telemetry, medical floors. The phone is not ring with calls from the Nursing Home.   There are no calls from stranded colleagues giving me the names of their patients that need to be evaluated.  I have no ER calls about patients needing to go to the Operating room because of fractures. So I am writing, reading and just enjoying the warmth for the first time in years.  I am going to watch episodes of “Foyle’s War” which is set in a small town outside London during World War II.  I am also going to read some medical journals, address holiday cards and make dinner.

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