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Features Health & Wellness HCH staffers stay on through winter storm

Pictured (L-R) are staff members who opted to stay at the Highlands Cashiers hospital through the recent winter storm: Johnathon O’Brien Unit Clerk, Stacey Flemister RN, Anna Jenkins CNA, Mary Kay Crandall RN, Kathy Egan RN and Shelly Clark CNA.Clinical and administrative staff at Highlands- Cashiers Hospital camped out overnight Sunday, Jan. 9, through Wednesday, Jan. 12, to assure they will be on the job during the winter conditions. Bunked in vacant patient rooms and doubled up with other staffers, employees went the extra mile to meet the needs of patients.

“I am continually impressed with the commitment and professionalism of our staff, especially during the recent weather conditions,” said Eileen Lipham, interim Chief Nursing Officer. “Sunday, before the storm hit, nursing, radiology, laboratory, respiratory therapy and environmental services staff began showing up with overnight bags packed and toothbrush in hand, prepared to stay as long as they needed to care for our patients. Their “do whatever it takes attitude” is a statement, showing the true commitment of each employee.

Furthermore it was their spouses and family members who also stepped up, making sure their loved one got safely to work. Registered Nurse, Mary Kay Crandall, stayed during the night for multiple shifts and with her sacrifice, she was shown a special act of love. Crandall’s son ventured out in the bitter cold to bring her a blanket from their home. “The experience of sleeping in an unfamiliar room for several nights was lightened by having a small reminder of home with me,” said Crandall.

“HCH does not have the luxury of hanging a “We’re Closed” sign outside our doors,” said Lipham. “At all times we are open 24/7, 365 days a week. Our staff is here for one reason, to provide care and treatment to our patients. Last week’s winter storm certainly dramatizes how important it is to have quality health care services available locally. Driving windy mountain roads in hazardous weather conditions is extremely dangerous and we are fortunate to have a hospital nearby.

“We encourage residents especially during times of wintry weather to keep warm, stay inside and remember to use proper safety measures if going outside in inclement conditions.”

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