Hospitals take precautions for staff in winter

Published: Jan. 29, 2019 at 11:13 PM CST
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Hospitals in Northeast Wisconsin are taking extra steps making sure employees and patients are safe during this extreme cold.

We talked with Bellin Health Plus, HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary's hospitals Tuesday. Everyone has a number-one priority: Staying safe and warm.

The hospitals say making sure employees can do their work -- and even get to work -- is a necessity for the community.

James Haskins is dedicated to his work as a valet driver at HSHS St. Vincent Hospital in Green Bay.

"Today is a challenge because we expect more people to come out in the cold, and that's why we do valet, because we figure we're doing a good service to the people that don't want to park their cars out in the cold," Haskins said.

He has to stay warm, too, and for employees at the hospital there are resources, especially on frigid days like these.

"We're providing rooms for our colleagues. We had a number of colleagues stay over during the snow storm because they couldn't get home safely, so we always provide that, and we actually feed them, too, and then with the cold weather, if they feel safer staying here, we allow them to do so," said Brian Charlier, president/CEO of HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary's hospitals.

Charlier says without extra safety precautions, people like doctors and nurses can't do their jobs.

Similarly, Bellin Health also has safety at the top of the priority list.

"We're running some extra bus services to make sure that we don't have folks standing out in the cold waiting to get transport here to the hospital or back to their cars. We are also offering jump assistance; sometimes in the cold weather it's difficult for the cars to start, so we want to be sure that our employees don't have to wait out in the cold," Bellin Health Chief Nursing Officer Laura Hieb said.

Willingly helping patients get into the hospital quickly, Haskins is thinking warm thoughts.

"Layer up. That's the important part. So we wear socks and caps and mittens, and we wear layers under our jacket to stay warm," he said.

The hospitals are urging patients who come in to use the free valet service.

Bellin Health also says it's been checking in with area homeless shelters to make sure they have the resources they need, too.