published Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

‘Business as usual’ at local hospitals


by Emily Bregel

As dozens of schools, businesses and public agencies kept their doors closed Monday, local hospital facilities tried to stay open during one of the biggest snowstorms in recent Chattanooga history.

“The goal in any kind of weather emergency is to ensure we’ve got appropriate staff and take care of our patients,” Pat Charles, Erlanger Health System spokeswoman, said. Though many elective surgeries scheduled for Monday were canceled, most of the area’s hospital facilities remained open on Monday, and hospital officials reported surprisingly few weather-related injuries.

“Most of the patients we’re getting in the ER today are the results of the physician offices closing,” Charles said.

At Erlanger’s adult emergency room, only two sledding-related injuries were reported as of late afternoon, Charles said. Two minor automobile accidents resulted in two other injuries that won’t require hospitalization, she said.

T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital ER treated one child who hit a mailbox while sledding but likely won’t be admitted, she said.

Memorial Hospital treated two weather-related injuries: A patient who had fallen and developed hypothermia, and another with a broken ankle, said spokesman Brian Lazenby.

“Most people must have stayed home today,” he said.

Local hospitals also were making such arrangements as setting up cots and providing meals for staff to stay overnight Monday to ensure full staffing levels today, when overnight freezing could result in icy road conditions.

“We’ve definitely had a full staff and things have been going along pretty smoothly,” Parkridge Medical Center spokeswoman Pat Holloway said Monday afternoon. “It’s pretty much business as usual at our hospitals.”

About 65 staff members at Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe stayed at the hospital Sunday night in anticipation of the severe weather and likely will stay Monday, too, said spokeswoman Haley Johnson,

More weather coverage:

Region pummeled by largest snowfall since '93

Region digging out from storm

Business: Snow shuts many area operations

There's no day like a snow day

about Emily Bregel...

Health care reporter Emily Bregel has worked at the Chattanooga Times Free Press since July 2006. She previously covered banking and wrote for the Life section. Emily, a native of Baltimore, Md., earned a bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Columbia University. She received a first-place award for feature writing from the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists’ Golden Press Card Contest for a 2009 article about a boy with a congenital heart defect. She ...

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