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Snow Storm Means A Sleepover For Emergency Hospital Workers

Be grateful if your employer allows you to stay home on snow days. For hospital workers, they can mean days away from home.

University of Kansas doctors, nurses and other emergency health providers slept in cots at the hospital before and after the snow storm that pummeled Kansas City on Tuesday.

"We're operating like a hotel," says Jill Chadwick of KU Hospital.

KU Hospital's clinics were closed Tuesday, but the emergency room, as well as services like chemotherapy and organ transplants, continued operations as scheduled.

KU was just one of many area hospitals coping with the storm.

"We're in Incident Command System mode," explains Shane Kovac of Truman Medical Centers.

Incident Command System is a set of procedures used by emergency response organizations throughout the city to control and coordinate services during emergencies. During these kinds of emergencies, local hospitals work hard to remain open and accessible during snowstorms.

"They're plowing every thirty minutes," explains Kimberly Stern of HCA Midwest Health System, whose hospitals include Lee's Summit Medical Center, Menorah Medical Center and Research Medical Center.

Anticipation of the blizzard created hospital slumber parties all over the metro area.  Preparing for a Tuesday morning whiteout, between 60 and 100 slept over Monday night at Truman Medical Centers hospitals and 40 at North Kansas City Hospital.

To help transport hospital employees who didn't choose a cot, KU Hospital has set up a transportation call center to coordinate carpooling. Sarah Fields, Chief Nursing Officer of North Kansas City Hospital, says her hospital has rented two four-wheel drive vehicles to transport employees.

HCA Midwest Health System is also reserving rooms at two hotels for hospital employees and providing employee shuttle service.

The clinics at the Kansas City Missouri Health Department were closed on Tuesday, but the Department's Jeff Hershberger says a "skeleton crew" was available in case of emergencies.

Despite the emergency protocol, Truman's Shane Kovac described Tuesday as "fairly peaceful" at Truman's emergency rooms. Many other hospitals, including KU Hospital, the HCA Midwest Health System hospitals, Truman Medical Centers and North Kansas City Hospital also reported seeing slightly more slips and falls and other weather-related injuries, but no major increase in emergency room visits during Tuesday's storm.

Kovac credits early school and business closings with lessening the medical impact of the storm.

Tonight may see many more hospital slumber parties. North Kansas City Hospital's Sarah Fields approximates 320 employees will sleep over Tuesday - many volunteering to do so - to be ready for Wednesday morning.

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