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VUMC responds to the winter storm

Feb. 23, 2015, 10:13 AM

The Emergency Operations Center in Medical Center North was open throughout the week to ensure hospital and clinic operations ran smoothly. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

During the predawn hours last Monday, Vanderbilt University Medical Center activated its Emergency Operations Center and initiated an Orange Alert for inclement weather in response to the worsening ice storm.

With more than 1,000 patients occupying its adult and pediatric hospitals year-round, and with these facilities even busier during winter months due to seasonal influenza and respiratory illnesses, VUMC maintains an around-the-clock capability 365 days a year to provide its patients the safest and highest quality health care services.

To meet the commitment to care for these patients, many of whom are critically ill, and the thousands of outpatients treated in its clinics and ambulatory surgery centers each day, the Medical Center’s faculty and staff serving in essential roles have made the commitment that despite what may be going on with the weather, their patients come first.

With the activation of the Orange Alert and Inclement Weather Plan, VUMC puts into place a comprehensive system that includes an incident command structure to manage through a crisis such as the ice storm, and an emergency staffing plan that shelters faculty and staff in place so they can continue to provide patient care, including onsite, around-the-clock facilities that feature temporary sleeping quarters, showers and food.

Throughout the week hospital operations were maintained without any impact to patient care. During the week, only a small number of clinics had to be temporarily closed, with most of these being located at off-campus facilities in outlying communities.

Plant Operations crews worked to clear roads and sidewalks near VUMC and across campus. (Anne Rayner/Vanderbilt)

During the week, Vanderbilt University Hospital’s Adult Emergency Department and the Pediatric Emergency Department at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt treated an unspecified number of adults and children for weather-related fall injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

Since last Monday, physicians and staff with Children’s Hospital have cared for more than 70 children injured in sledding accidents. The number of children treated was unprecedented, with injuries running the gamut from minor abrasions, lacerations and broken bones to some children suffering life-threatening injuries due to high-speed impact accidents involving stationary objects such as mailboxes, trees and parked vehicles.

In an interview with NBC Nightly News about the unusually high number of Middle Tennessee children treated at Children’s Hospital after suffering sledding accidents, John Wellons III, professor of neurological surgery and chief of pediatric neurosurgery, said, “We’ve never seen this many injuries in this brief a period of time.”

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