DIGGING OUTNorth Dakota is known for its extreme weather as well as the people willing to lend a helping hand. During a Monday and Tuesday’s blizzard, hospitals were thankful for the latter.
By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press
North Dakota is known for its extreme weather as well as the people willing to lend a helping hand. During a Monday and Tuesday’s blizzard, hospitals were thankful for the latter.
Volunteers in Dickinson and Hettinger transported staff and physicians to hospitals so they could remain open through the storm.
“We just started making phone calls and they actually called a friend and a friend and it just kind of went down the line,” said Michelle Hinrichs, quality director and interim director of nursing at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Dickinson. “I don’t know how we would have done it without them.”
She added while the hospital was not fully staffed, about 50 employees were transported to the hospital by snowmobilers and other staff with four-wheel-drive vehicles. She said about 17 staff members slept at the hospital.
“It went really well. We mainly focused on the patient care things — you know getting them fed, getting them taken care of,” Hinrichs said.
“We were able to provide full patient care.”
Jim Long, CEO of West River Health Services in Hettinger, said staff took a similar approach to the situation.
“We’ve got nurses that show up for work with a suitcase, planning to stay overnight,” Long said. “We had a pretty good number of patients in house at the time, so staff knew that people had to be here, so they kept it covered.”
He added volunteer snowmobilers transported hospital staff.
“It was a snow day outside, but pretty much business as usual inside,” Long said.
Great Plains Clinic in Dickinson was closed Tuesday and opened at noon on Wednesday. Medcenter One Dickinson Clinic and Medcenter One Occupational Health Clinic in Dickinson remained closed Wednesday.
Capt. Tony Huck of the North Dakota Highway Patrol said two people were injured in a crash on Interstate 94 Tuesday. He said the crash involved three semi trucks and a pickup, and the occupants of the pickup had minor injuries.
“They were both treated and released,” Huck said, adding that was the only crash resulting in injuries.
Lynn Hartman, operations manager for the Dickinson ambulance, said the ambulance crew had some delays during the storm, but nothing major.
“It slows down our response time,” Hartman said, adding they were still able to get around. “We have a four-wheel-drive ambulance.”
He added the ambulance was called out twice Tuesday and twice Wednesday morning.
Accidents and slide-offs
Huck said there were also between 10 and 12 property accidents related to poor road conditions from the storm. He said two of those crashes were vehicles that hit snowplows.
“The accidents weren’t so bad, but then a bunch of calls of semis getting stuck came in pretty much all Monday night into Tuesday morning,” Huck said.
He added about 20 to 30 people slid into ditches around the Dickinson area due to the weather conditions.
Huck said Interstate 94 was really bad near Gladstone, and he said there was a period of time where crews could not get through. Highway Patrol officers from Bismarck came to assist those who were stranded east of Gladstone.
Belfield Police Chief Larry Johnson said several vehicles, including his own, got stuck in snow drifts throughout the town. He added no major emergencies were reported in the area.
Stark County Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said the biggest problem the Sheriff’s Department encountered was getting people to and from work.
The Dickinson Police Department experienced similar problems, but was able to remain fully staffed throughout the storm, Sgt. Dave Wilkie said. They responded to about six property accidents and six motorists stuck in the snow from Monday evening to Wednesday morning.
Road crews had most of the roads cleared of snow by Wednesday. While the weather caused several inconveniences, few emergency situations were created.
Hinrichs said about 28 patients were in the Emergency Room at St. Joseph’s between Tuesday and Wednesday. She said a handful of those patients were there for snow-related injuries, such as the car crash and a few falls.
Long said he was not aware of any emergency situations created by the storm in the Hettinger area.
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