There isn't a hard and fast rule when it comes to handling patients during severe weather. However, local hospitals are working to make sure patients are as prepared as possible. St. Vincent's and UAB hospitals have been communicating with patients since earlier this week to determine if procedures should be rescheduled. They say the best way to manage in this situation is on a case by case basis.
"This time we have been able to very proactively talk to patients and decide what's best for them on an individual basis," said Anthony Patterson, senior Vice President for inpatients services at UAB Hospital.
He says they've been working on a severe weather plan since Monday. "Today we are trying to complete all of our elective and non elective surgical procedures in time for patients to be recovered. And if it's an outpatients procedure so they can get home in time. But many of our patients that will be operated on today will go to an inpatient bed and spend a night or two or three nights with us," said Patterson.
Looking ahead through this evening and tomorrow, Patterson says patients will be contacted. "Through our Kirkland clinic, they have automated systems that can send text messages, emails and call patients on the numbers and email addresses that they have on file. And then we will proactively call patients and let them know what we're thinking," said Patterson.
At St. Vincent's Hospital, President and COO Andy Davis, says many elective procedures have been canceled or postponed. "We consider our volumes and potential spikes in volumes and all that has to be taken into consideration relative to supplies and things that we need to get into the facility prior to hazardous road conditions taking place," said Davis.
As for discharges, both Patterson and Davis says they will do their best not to put people out in dangerous conditions. "We are not going to discharge someone out of the facility and put them in a hazardous situation. And when roads are safe, that's when we would be work with the families and patients to discharge out," said Davis.
As for opening its doors to people who are not patients, both Davis and Patterson say the hospitals are prepared to do that as well.