The SNF Storm
Over the past few days, the Northwest region of the country where I live has experienced a massive winter storm - the likes of which this area hasn't seen in more than 20 years. Our little corner of the world has been adjusting to 4-12 inches of snow fall followed by an (unexpected) ice storm. You readers in the Midwest or Northeast might scoff but we just don't see that type of snowfall, nor are we prepared for it.
The kids have been delighted, of course. Between the MLK holiday on Monday and the additional three days off due to weather conditions, they've had the majority of the week off. Luckily in our household, my husband's days off have fallen over the school closure. As I work Monday through Friday, I at least have been able to commute in the snowy mess with my husband's large four wheel drive truck - stranding the family at home with my small, gas-efficient compact. Translation: they're stranded at home.
My typical commute takes me 25 minutes on an average day and that's if I hit traffic. Due to the storm, between navigating a highway with 6 inches of packed snow and ice along with people who can't even drive in one inch of snow, it has taken me more than an hour each way.
The work environment has also been challenging. The SNF staff has been skeletal for days. People simply cannot physically make it in to work. The staff members who have vehicles that can maneuver in the snow are working double shifts. The CNAs are not willing to risk their lives to commute in for minimum wage. Can I blame them? No - having said that, all of the unit managers including the head administrator of the facility have offered the pick up any employee at their home if necessary.
Unfortunately, it's the patients who suffer. Many are unaware of the trials we employees at the facility have been going through to even get to work on time. Call lights have been on longer than usual due to lack of staff. I've been filling many water cups, tissues and aiding in dressing when necessary to help out the nursing staff and facilitate my own schedule.
Luckily the forecast is for temperatures to rise tomorrow, thawing out our area, and returning stress levels to normal. It has been an interesting example of teamwork when it's needed most. Granted, nerves were on edge, as can be expected from a dangerous hour-long commute. But in general, all facets of the facility had to work together and help each other out to successfully run the community of an SNF. Hopefully, we will all remember that community feeling when our days return to "normal."