It is highly unlikely you will find the familiar motto starting with the words – “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night. . .” posted on the walls of any hospital – anywhere. Actually, the U.S. Postal Service won’t lay claim to this mantra either! (The ONLY place you’ll find it is on the James A. Farley Post Office in New York City – only because it was placed there by the building’s architects.)
Useless trivia aside, while this credo cannot be accurately attributed to any modern day profession, it is a practical notion, among many, that healthcare professionals take to heart.
A Case in Point
North Alabama had its first real blast of wintery weather in late January – leaving behind frightening stories of motorists stranded in the cold with no food or water for hours, parents separated from their children with no choice but to leave them in a teacher’s care for the night and babies being born on snow- and ice-covered interstate highways.
Few, however, can top the story of Birmingham brain surgeon, Dr. Zenko Hrynkiw, who walked six miles in the snow from one hospital to another in order to perform emergency, life-saving brain surgery when traffic and travel conditions made it impossible for him to drive.
Yet, the best part of the Dr. Hrynkiw’s story is what happened when the dramatic event was over. As the retelling of the story went viral – worldwide, a surprised Dr. Hrynkiw wondered, “What is all the fuss about? It really wasn’t that big of a deal…any good doctor would do it.”
Better Yet – A Case in Point That’s Close to Home
Fortunately, unlike our Birmingham neighbors, the healthcare professionals at Marshall Medical Centers don’t have to worry about navigating interstates and traffic jams to get to work – regardless of the weather. But, you would not know it by their response to this week’s snowy forecast.
“The response from our staff to the threat of severe weather this week is the perfect testimony to what it means to be a part of a team of dedicated, committed healthcare professionals,” stated Kathy Woodruff, chief nursing officer at Marshall Medical Center North.
More than half of the approximately 150 people needed to staff MMC North during the last 24 hours spent the night (or day for those on the night shift) in order to be certain they were there when their shifts began. Most who reported to work hours before their scheduled shifts, or even on their day off, made the personal sacrifice of leaving their homes and their own families to be ready and available to the people in our community who entrusted MMC with their care.
MMC Employees Amy Edwards & Heather Craven prepare for “sleeping over” during the winter weather.
“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to care for those in our community who need our care,” added Woodruff. “We’ve seen this response from our staff time- and- time-again during adverse weather events. They show up with blow-up mattresses, blankets, clothes, food and, most important, a great attitude about doing whatever is necessary to care for our patients and their families.”
Cheryl Hays, the administrator at MMCN, added, “We are proud of our clinical staff for going above- and- beyond what is routinely asked of them in order to ensure the best care possible for our patients. Our Facilities Maintenance, Environmental Services and Food Services team members also deserve to be recognized. They have all worked around the clock to ensure that sidewalks and driveways are safe and clear, our facility is cleaned and well-maintained – and- nourishing meals are available.”
“There are numerous stories of teamwork, support, and kindness that were demonstrated throughout our organization,” affirmed Ruth Bischoff, director of nursing at MMCS. “Employees were asked to fill in where needed and to assume additional responsibilities. Despite fatigue, employees rallied to meet the needs of the patients we are proud to provide care to and to assist one another in this endeavor. I went home last week feeling very fortunate to work with this group of people.”
While the Marshall Cancer Care Center closed on Tuesday and Wednesday for the safety of patients and staff, director Cindy Sparkman declared, “After being notified [of the closing] at 6 a.m., the staff started calling to cancel patients at 7.” Each patient received a personal call to relay the information. Despite the closing Dr. Payne, Sparkman and therapists came in and were able to treat 11 radiation patients Wednesday afternoon as well as seeing most of the scheduled patients on Thursday.
Getting the job done didn’t stop at braving conditions to treat patients at the Cancer Center. Sparkman said, “Facilities staff had been up for two days working at the hospital and were going to be unable to make it to the mid-campus until around 2 p.m. Bill Kirkpatrick, [MMC director of business development] and Dr. Tom Payne, [radiation oncologist], shoveled sidewalks and the parking lot enough to allow patients access until facilities management could get her to finish the job. It was truly a team effort for all!”
At Marshall Medical Centers, a little snow won’t stop us from our appointed rounds of providing world-class healthcare with a personal touch. And, to borrow a phrase from Dr. Hrynkiw: “What’s all the fuss about? It’s just what any good group of healthcare professionals would do!”