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No snow day for hospital employees

The weather Sunday into Monday resulted in most northeast Indiana counties declaring Level 1 travel warnings.

These warnings restrict all but the most essential traffic on the road, namely emergency responders such as public safety officials, doctors, nurses and other occupations that fall under emergency management.

But what do the emergency workers do if they can’t get to work?

Well, for hospitals within both major health systems in Fort Wayne, there are plans in place.

Parkview Health spokesman Eric Clabaugh said that system has a team of people who have reliable 4-by-4 vehicles who then volunteer to pick up co-workers for their shifts.

Staff members “call their leaders if they need a ride and that leader will talk with a house supervisor. If it’s decided the (staff member) is essential to patient care, or can assist another floor with patient care, a driver will be assigned to” pick up the staff member, Clabaugh said in an email message Monday.

At the hospitals of Lutheran Health Network, officials began preparing Thursday when initial forecasts came out, said Erica Wehrmeister, chief operating officer.

“Several staff members came in Saturday night, ahead of the storm, and several Sunday mid-morning, with duffel bags,” she said. “And they’ve spent two to three days at the hospital.”

Among those staff members were the network’s surgical call teams.

The network’s security staff have four-wheel drive vehicles and were able to pick up employees within a 5-mile radius, but those folks were told to be prepared to stay at the hospital, she said.

There was a photo circulating Monday on Facebook of snowmobiles in front of a building and information claiming that was how Parkview got their employees to work.

Clabaugh said there was talk of snowmobiles being used, but not in an official capacity and he could not confirm the building in the photo was a Parkview facility.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Northern Indiana Health Care System curtailed services at its VA Medical Center in Fort Wayne on Monday.

Except for the emergency room, outpatient care was temporarily suspended, according to Jennifer Baran-Prall, administrative assistant.

Baran-Prall said in an email that the acute medical unit remained open for inpatient care. The unit had two patients Monday.

Suspended services were to resume after Allen County’s state of emergency ended Monday evening. Baran-Prall said the VA will contact military veterans to reschedule appointments they missed. Veterans with questions should call 1-800-360-8387.

Brian Francisco of The Journal Gazette contributed to this story.