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Hospitals fully staffed, prepared for weather

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Doctors and nurses were coming to work early and sleeping in local hospital beds to be sure they could be at work after the winter storm began Sunday.

Area hospitals were fully staffed and prepared to maintain staffing despite up to 8 inches of snow and below-zero temperatures, officials said.

Johnson Memorial Hospital asked its evening and night workers to head to work Sunday morning before the majority of the snow fell, so they would be at work regardless of road conditions, chief operating officer Steve Wohlford said.

The hospital also keeps a list of employees with four-wheel drive vehicles, in case they need to pick up co-workers who can’t get out, he said.

Staff at Franciscan St. Francis Health were asked to pack clothes and medications for a possible 72-hour stay at the southside hospital, spokesman Joe Stuteville said. The hospital asked for nurses, doctors and support staff, such as housekeepers and the workers who clear sidewalks, to volunteer to take the long weekend shifts, he said.

The hospital is providing empty patient beds, and cots were set up in conference rooms for doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and X-ray technicians if they need to stay, he said.

Johnson Memorial Hospital was keeping track of empty patient beds and could have employees sleep in outpatient surgery rooms, if necessary, Wohlford said.

About 15 people who worked night shifts Saturday volunteered to stay at the hospital, sleep during the day, and work Sunday evening and night shifts, Wohlford said.

Employees will work no longer than 16-hour shifts and will be given sleep breaks, he said.

At Community Hospital South, employees could be asked to stay longer than their typical shifts, depending on the weather, spokeswoman Courtney Jones said.

The hospital would provide beds and food to employees if needed, she said.

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