During ice storm, CCH staff works diligently to secure helicopter

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, February 4, 2014

While the majority of Crenshaw County was enjoying a break from working due to iced roads and snowy weather, one group was working overtime to ensure that residents would still be able to receive medical care if needed.

More than 40 employees in addition to the regularly scheduled staff at Crenshaw Community Hospital spent the majority of last week at the hospital to chip in where needed and to keep the round-the-clock service going while roads were impassable and closed.

ER Manager Tim Hopper said the team made sure there were staff, supplies and medications on hand.

Email newsletter signup

While hospital employees had potential staffing issues covered, they was concern about transporting patients who needed more intensive care for things such as strokes, heart attacks and emergency surgery, Hopper said.

“We knew that with the icy roads, we were going to have to figure out how to transfer if needed,” Hopper said. “There are things that no rural hospital is equipped to do. The big things are strokes, heart attacks and emergency surgeries. We do what we can do very well, but there are those things that require a higher level of care.”

Hopper said hospital staff knew they’d have trouble making a transfer if they needed one with the weather, so the team made hourly calls to EMS and metaflight.

During the ice storm, the ER team encountered a patient who was a stroke victim, and it was crucial that they find a means to transport the patient to a more specialized facility.

“This particular patient made us work that much harder to find a way. We had trouble finding transport,” Hopper said. “We had been in touch with EMA, and there was no way to get through on the roads in the north or the south.”

Hopper said he exhausted his helicopter connections and that the weather conditions had even prompted UAB to shutdown their helicopter service.

“They referred us to LifeSaver out of Sylacauga,” he said. “They finally got clearance to come. It was pretty dangerous. The pilot had never been to the hospital, so he had to circle the hospital a few times.”

The hospital personnel teamed together and assisted to get this patient the care they needed.

Hopper said the winter storm caused an overwhelming burden on the staff to help ensure that patients who came through the doors were able to get the best possible care.

Brad Eisemann, administrator, said regardless of the circumstances, the staff of CCH remains committed to the healthcare needs of the residents of this county.