Extreme weather blamed for local injuries

2014-01-06T18:02:00Z 2014-01-07T08:03:04Z Extreme weather blamed for local injuriesBy Vanessa Renderman vanessa.renderman@nwi.com, (219) 933.3244 nwitimes.com

At least one local person was treated for a hand injury related to unclogging a snow blower Monday, as the bitter cold and snowy conditions landed people in local hospitals.

The snow blower hand injury case was handled at Franciscan St. Anthony Health Hospital in Crown Point, officials at the facility said.

The emergency department handled 16 weather-related injuries by late afternoon, including one person with frostbite, six falls, four motor vehicle crash victims and four people who suffered chest pains that developed while shoveling.

Its sister hospital in Michigan City reported treating three people who fell on snow and ice, one person involved in a motor vehicle accident and one case of frostbite.

Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospital in Dyer treated patients with upper respiratory infections, fevers, shortness of breaths and falls Monday morning, hospital officials said.

Dr. Thessa Robertson, emergency room physician with Methodist Hospitals, reminded people to dress warmly and wear layers.

“If you are outdoors and start to feel pain, go inside immediately,” she said. “We have seen cases of frost nip and frostbite, primarily to the hands, feet and ears.”

Chicago emergency rooms reported numerous weather-related injuries, according to the Associated Press.

Extreme temperatures and snowy roads posed a challenge for health care workers stuck at home or at work.

“We have 4-wheel drive vehicles that are available to pick up staff that is unable to get to work, if staffing falls below acceptable levels,” said Emery Garwick, emergency preparedness coordinator for Methodist Hospitals.

When severe weather situations arise, Methodist Hospitals Emergency Management Committee meets with administrators on call, and a Phase I Emergency Operations Plan is implemented, Garwick said.

“Phase I is a preparatory phase, where current staffing levels and resources are accessed in preparation for a Phase II EOP,” he said. “If the situation progresses to a Phase II, then we activate our incident command center that serves as the central coordination center for all activities in the hospital.”

Tom Gryzbek, president of Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospitals in Hammond and Dyer, said staff and physicians went the extra mile to help meet the needs of its patients.

“Some staff slept at the hospital, while others spent long hours at home cleaning their driveways and removing snow to arrive at work,” he said.

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