Blazers stuck on campus during winter storm help each other, others

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snow day2014 3 sizedAn unexpected two inches of snow quickly turned to ice and left many faculty, staff, students, travelers, patients and family members stranded and in need of food and shelter this week. That’s no small feat when you realize that if UAB were a city — its daily population would rank among the state’s top 20 largest.

UAB employees took the initiative to help in any way possible. For some it meant providing food or rounding up blankets, pillows and medication or keeping essential services running. One even helped run a field hospital in Hoover. Below are just a few stories:

  • On the morning of Tuesday, Jan 28, we had 16 people being interviewed at the Calhoun County Health Department for the Anniston Community Health Survey Follow-up study. When the snow began to fall around 10 a.m., we expedited collecting blood samples from the participants and got them out the door as quickly as possible. One 76-year-old lady, who uses a walker and oxygen, could not get a ride until about 1:45 p.m. Nurses from the Calhoun County Health Department and Jacksonville State University stayed with me, a UAB colleague and the lady until she was safely on her way. Everyone left, but I stayed behind because the roads were so clogged with traffic. I stayed at the CCHD building alone living on the crackers and juice normally used for the blood donors until Thursday morning. Because none of the clinical staff could get into the CCHD building, we were in danger of losing the blood donations from the 16 participants. I am an economist. I have written scholarly articles on clinical laboratory regulation and Medicare reimbursement rules for lab tests, but I have no laboratory experience beyond dissecting worms in high school biology class quite a long time ago. I did not want to lose the blood samples, so I called the study investigator at CDC. Using Face time on our iPhones, he instructed me on how to use a centrifuge to spin down about 100 blood sample tubes, suction out the serum and store it in the freezer. The blood was saved, and I got home safely on Thursday.
    — Stephen Mennemeyer, professor of public health
  • My roommate and I were going out, like most of our fellow students, to have fun in the snow when we noticed a group of individuals that attend UAB pushing cars that were getting stuck in the ice going up the hill adjacent to Snoozys. We decided the more the merrier and joined in on this for two hours. Definitely not the easiest thing to do after a while and we fell down in the process. However, the most rewarding thing to hear was, "thank you so much" or " you all are saints." I know it's just a small part in all of what UAB came together to do for family, friends, students and faculty but every little part makes it less of a school and more of a home
    — Olivia McVey, student 

  • Residence Life and Staff Development Coordinator Jennifer Griffin and Communications Coordinator Marrisa Thornton walked to campus from their apartment during the lunch rush on Wednesday to help UAB Dining employees bus tables and manage the crowd of students, staff and faculty members stranded on campus. Residence Life coordinators Andrea Taylor, Andrew Stone and Wendy Wells also volunteered during the dinner rush to help UAB Dining staff. We were able to house stranded maintenance staff in our vacant rooms. Additionally, we were able to allow more than 300 stranded students to stay in the residence halls with friends until it was safe for them leave. 
    — Marrisa Thornton, office services specialist for Student Housing and Residential Life

  • My team rocks! Why? Because girls rock! GYN functions as an all female staff and we stuck together. Our nurse manager even put on her scrubs and worked along with me as a night shift staff RN… We made sure everyone had enough to eat, we set up couches, stretchers, etc., as sleeping headquarters. We hosted the hospital as an onsite laundry facility by offering our washer and dryer in our unit. The fun lasted through positive talks, music, joke-telling and making the best of our GYN family with little resources, all while providing the best patient care possible. We all missed our families during a vulnerable time, but we found refuge in having a warm building to sleep in and others to share of stories with. 
    — Miracle Reese, RN in Women's and Infant's Services

  • While no one expected the storm, the staff of UAB Callahan Eye Hospital were prepared to ensure all those stranded at our facility were well cared for and as comfortable as possible. On Tuesday night, we had 106 office building employees, 98 CEH staff members and 36 patients and their families. We admitted a patient flown up for an emergency surgery, and our surgeons and clinicians were here waiting to do what we do best. Our emergency room and pharmacy staff were able to fill the medications that many didn’t bring because they had expected to go home. Callahan pharmacy staff made several trips in the snow and ice to the pharmacy at UAB to pick up medicines that we either ran out of or did not have in stock. We were also able to help fellow co-workers beyond the walls of Callahan Eye Hospital. Stranded staff at UAB Hospital and Children’s Hospital needed contact lens cases and solution. Dr. Callahan and Dr. Parker’s offices, both of who are located in Callahan Eye Hospital, were able to give them the needed supplies. We were able to feed everyone on multiple occasions and provide blankets, pillows, and as many beds, and mattresses or even in some instances, exam chairs as we had available… Torrey DeKeyser, executive director of the EyeSight Foundation of Alabama, which is located in the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, was extremely generous by sharing water and coffee with us for our patients and their families. To help the time pass, Callahan hosted an impromptu movie night in our auditorium — complete with popcorn and snacks — for our employees and our building tenant’s employees. As evidence to our commitment to the values of UAB Callahan Eye Hospital, we received four Facebook posts and an email sent to Patient/Guest Comment Feedback from praising the Callahan staff for their attentiveness and accommodations during the storm. 
    — Annee Cook, marketing manager for Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital

  • The Emergency Department has several folks who really went above and beyond. There were physicians who walked in the snow and ice to ensure that they were present and ready to take care of patients. Dr. Delaney was one of those. Dr. Jeremy Thomas, the medical director for the Emergency Department, stayed on site and even was able find a pizza place open and able to get pizza for the entire department. The ED pharmacist walked from the Summit to ensure that she was here and able to assist. When other staff were able to make it in, they came bearing gifts of clean underwear, toothbrushes, deodorant, candy and snacks. One staff member said they had never been more excited about a clean pair of underwear and a toothbrush in their entire life. We had several new mothers who were still needing to pump, and RNICU was so gracious to provide extra bottles so that they could do so. One staff member was able to get to their child but wasn't able to get back home so she stayed in the department overnight.. The ER helped numerous patients who needed a place to sleep after they had been discharged and or help with medicines or getting home. The staff was able to do this all on just a few hours of sleep so that all patients could receive excellent patient care. There was true teamwork and a commitment to weather the storm together. 
    — India Alford, nurse manager in Emergency Services

  • My team (C5SE) made tremendous sacrifices to ensure that the patients on our unit were safe and comfortable. Nurses, patient observers and secretaries helped to cover each other’s roles and responsibilities to minimize disruption or confusion. We work in a unique unit with adolescents who are suffering from severe and chronic mental illness. Structure, consistency and routine are paramount to a functioning workplace for us. Despite being unsettled, staff persevered and stayed true to UAB’s core ethics. Our nurse manager described it as “excellence in action,” and I’d have to agree. I’m also delighted to announce that several patients informed me of the “amazing sleepover” I missed. I am proud to be a member of such an exemplary team
    — Marion Wallace, assistant professor in Child and Adolescent Psychology

  • snow day sizedThe entire staff of the CICU was amazing! Excellent teamwork and positive attitudes throughout the whole event, always putting patients first. Staff members were able to get in during the snow and brought food, toiletries and comfort items for the other staff. Many kind actions towards one another, patients and their families! I'm very proud! 
    — Lisa Findley, nurse practitioner in Cardiovascular Services

  • The first shift of HSIS operations manned the computer room for more than 48 hours. We survived on six-to-eight total hours of sleep during that 48-hour period. Our group of four people ensured that the computer system was available during this time of emergency. This effort helped allow the doctors and nurses to accomplish our goal of giving the best patient care anywhere.
    — Allen Myers, operations analyst for Health System Information Services
  • College of Arts and Sciences IT members TD Todd, Bradford Bondurant, Matthew Pace and Rod Clark made the trek to Dreamland to get sandwiches for the 30-40 people stranded in Heritage Hall for lunch and supper on Tuesday.
    — Rod Clark, Information Systems Specialist for the College of Arts and Sciences Information Technology
  • The Case Management Department, consisting of registered nurses and social workers, were kept overnight Tuesday and Wednesday to assist patients and families who were discharged, but could not safely travel home. We supervised the North Pavilion waiting area where individuals were housed overnight and provided blankets, pillows, coffee and water. We also assisted those needing prescriptions filled, food options and personal care. Some RNs even volunteered their services on nursing units to fill the void for those nurses who could not safely make it into work from home. Though we all would have loved to be at home with our families, we understand our roles in the hospital and are blessed to be a blessing to others. Kudos to my colleagues!
    — Tiffany Thomson, social worker in the Case Management Department
  • More than 50 faculty and staff in the School of Nursing were stranded. Faculty took command of clinical skills and simulation labs by making up the hospital beds with clean sheets, pillows, and blankets. About 20 faculty/staff were able to sleep comfortably and shower. We commandeered the kitchen and kept coffee and other drinks going, and prepared whatever food items were available. We also sheltered several other non-UAB individuals... Everyone was amazing and spirits were high.
    —   Linda Moneyham, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

See more photos from across campus in the Flickr photo gallery, courtesy UAB Digital Media, College of Arts and Sciences.