Before the first snowflake fell Tuesday, Augusta hospitals were putting their emergency plans into action.
Georgia Regents Medical Center activated its Incident Command Center at 10 a.m. to coordinate the operations for the hospital and Children’s Hospital of Georgia. By 3 p.m., University Hospital “had a list of 7-10 off-duty employees or relatives of employees with four-wheel drive vehicles with experience driving in snow and icy conditions who were willing to pick up essential employees within an approximate 30-mile radius of the hospital,” spokeswoman Rebecca Sylvester said.
Doctors Hospital also had a group of employees with all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles standing by to pick up or take home employees, Chief Operating Officer Chris Cosby said. GRMC contracts with a taxi service to get employees to and from the health system under these conditions, spokeswoman Denise Parrish said. Trinity Hospital of Augusta released all non-essential personnel by 3 p.m. and notified those working the later shift to report early to avoid the coming snow and ice, spokeswoman Rachel Covar said.
All of the directors of essential areas at University slept on cots in their offices Tuesday night “to help ensure their areas of responsibility ran smoothly,” Sylvester said. Doctors set up what was essentially male and female cot “dormitories” for those couldn’t make it home or needed to stay Tuesday night, Cosby said, which included him.
“It was fine,” he said. The hospital also gave employees free meals, Cosby said.
For those overnighting at Trinity, “we provided them all a place to stay within the hospital, and their meals as well,” Covar said. GRMC also provided beds and food vouchers, Parrish said.
The emergency plan was to continue Wednesday night at University and Doctors, but the Incident Command Center at GRMC closed Wednesday afternoon and Trinity was not expecting any further issues.
“We do what we can to make sure people are there 24/7 to keep things going for the patient,” Parrish said.