Weather Updates

Chicago hospitals planned ahead for staffing

While many employees had the luxury of not having to report to work Wednesday, area hospitals proactively ensured that key staff were on hand Wednesday.

At Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, a car pool comprised of four-wheel drive vehicles and trucks, driven by the hospital’s management team, braved the storm to pick up staff and bring them to the hospital and Ingalls’ urgent aid centers in the south suburbs. Among the drivers was the hospital’s chief executive officer, Kurt Johnson.

Through Wednesday afternoon, roughly 112 staff had been picked up since the car pooling began Tuesday afternoon, and hospital personnel also took one patient home, said Kathy Mikos, vice president for patient services. Many of the staff also spent the night at the hospital Tuesday night, among them all of the hospital’s leadership team, she said.

“There were cots set up in one of the meeting rooms,” and nurses and other staff also took advantage of empty patient rooms to get some shut eye, said hospital spokeswoman Susan Fine. “Some people even brought their own air mattresses along with an overnight bag.”

Staff slept in between shifts and then got up and went right back to work again, she said.

The hospital’s emergency room and critical care areas were sufficiently staffed, and Ingalls’ three 24/7 urgent aid centers remained open, Fine said. In areas where people weren’t able to make it into work, the hospital covered “with other people going to other departments than their normal department,” Fine said. “People are just covering for each other, staying over or whatever.”

“It has worked really well,” said Mikos.

Clinics at the University of Chicago Medical Center hospital were closed Wednesday because the hospital had expected there would be staffing issues, but the hospital’s emergency room and in-patient units remained open, said spokesman John Easton.

“We anticipated that there would be a lot of people who would have trouble getting here, so we recruited people who did extra shifts or came in and switched positions,” Easton said. “We tried to bring in people who would be able to work a shift, take the night off and work another shift, so they wouldn’t have to travel either way. A number of people spent the night because they knew it would either be very difficult to get home or difficult to get here. I think we had 271 cots and gurneys and beds set aside for staff that wanted to stay over. I understand we filled them all.”

At ComEd, company managers expected the storm would bring power outages and made preparations to assure repair crews and others would be able to make it into work. Key staff were put up in hotels near where they’d be needed Wednesday, said spokeswoman Tabrina Davis.

“We made everything from lodging arrangements and food accommodations so that our personnel who are working the storm would be accessible fairly quickly, so that we could deploy them fairly quickly and they would have to do limited driving to get to our facilities and get to locations” where needed, she said..

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