Surviving and recovering from the storm

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    Last weekend's blizzard stressed all of us at the community hospital where I work. We were short staffed because some people could not make it in and on top of that, many of us were mandated to stay and work. It was chaotic. Most of us who were there that weekend left exhausted and were dragging all week. I know that I, a full week later, am still not back to my baseline. This is not the last weather emergency we will ever have so I want to use this as an opportunity to be better prepared in the future. So, if I were to make myself some type of emergency kit, what would I pack? I have some toiletries & extra scrubs, but what about food? I had no opportunit to get to the cafeteria before it closed at 1:30 and wasn't able to get any real food until it opened later. Other than wolfing down a couple of protein bars during the day, I ate nothing until 6:30 in the evening. What can I pack that keeps well, is nutritious and easy to prepare and easy to eat? Do I keep a backpack full of canned goods? I actually got to leave but am trying to think of things that would have made me more comfortable if I had needed to stay. And now that I feel like an exhausted wreck of a woman, any tips on how to bounce back? I know I'm not 19 any more, but recovering is taking longer than I expected. Are there any tips or tricks to speed up the process? What are your favorite ways to rest and relax after a tough stretch?
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  3. 6 Comments so far...

  4. 3
    I work LTC on 11-7. Never a real oppt'y to catch 'real' prepared food while at work, so my coworkers and I learned lots of ways to survive. Assuming that you're in a COLD ZONE, where outside freezing temps would be an issue, you really can't pack anything that would have moisture - otherwise things would freeze and burst in your trunk.

    I have several suggestions. First, when you pack your 'emergency' picnic basket, you need to think DRY. I carried individual packs of oatmeal, grits, farina etc. Dry cereal in the small indiv boxes (I loved them as a kid). Always pick a good brand or your favorite as you need to please yourself. Mac & cheese, chili and soups come dry also in iindivid cups.

    You can bring instant powdered milk and Tang-type orange juice (you will most likely be able to reconstitute your liquids). Buy a good brand jarred instant coffee, instant cocoa packs, and/or some nice tea bags (and this sounds silly and petty but I also brought single tsp sugar packs - because there'll be a run on the floor's pantry). Some items will be in a larger-than-needed size, but I never portioned them out r/t keeping the bags or jars intact for freshness.

    Pick up dried fruits like banana & apple chips, health /granola bars, crackers & cookies etc. Be selective but consider variety as there are foods out there. They might not be your usual, most wise choices (thinking sodium, sugar, additives), but they would only be needed for infrequent or quick emergencies.

    It would be nice to bring Lean Cuisines but you'd have to store them & cook. They do make indiv tune & crackers and dairy items but they need to be brought inside.

    I never figured out a way to store liquids - I guess you could use a wrapped thermal summer cooler in your trunk for a few water bottles for a short time.

    Be realistic about how much you pack - for your car's standby kit and/or your stuck-at-work kit. You're only out to feed yourself, unless you choose to share. Word of advice, be careful where you store your stash at work. Guard against things disappearing if you leave your supplies in the pantry (NOT a wise idea) - sad to say, but things ARE NOT sacred even when labelled with your name. I've known of staff suitcases disappearing!!!

    Learn to cruise the grocery store aisles as new things are always coming out. Hope these suggestions help!
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    Thanks for the ideas. They are exactly what I was looking for. Water and electricity don't seem to be a problem as we were running off generators during the last storm. I plan on pulling together a couple of days of food and keeping it in a backpack so I can grab it on my way out the door should I need it. Then again, I should try to keep a couple of lighter items in my tote bag in case something comes up unexpectedly. Thanks again for the gret ideas
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    I know a lot of nurses who would stay to work overtime and they would resort to their car's snack packs for those extra shifts. Just try to keep things in individual packs - will save on waste and enhances pack-a-ability. A great snack is popcorn envelopes altho you might not have time except to grab a handful and run. And you'll find EVERYONE on the floor is your friend when there's fresh popcorn! Essence/eau du popcorn is one of life's best fragrances.

    And when circumstances aren't so problemsome, you might want to bring a potato. I worked with a CNA who brought potatoes; she'd just nuke it and add a little salt & pepper. Another odor delicioso. I know it sounds crazy, but try it, you'll like it!
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    OK - there is something really wrong with this scenario. If you are working through an external disaster, the facility should have plans in place to ensure that you are provided with meals and (if necessary) sleeping accommodations.

    I live in hurricane country. All of our hospitals, LTCs, LTACHs, etc have very detailed disaster plans that are put into place when a storm is approaching. "Stayers" (volunteers) are provided with whatever they need to ensure that they can continue to care for patients safely. In our acute care facilities, there are also physicians who volunteer to stay. In most cases, the hospital also provides the same for the staff member's family & pets!!! I can't believe that this is not also the case in parts of the country where blizzards are not that uncommon. Sheesh. You guys need more respect!
    Silverlight2010 likes this.
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    To HouTx - I have read here on AN about posters who were NOT afforded any amenities/accomodations when they were required to stay over. Not everybody works for places that plan well or are concerned for staff welfare. I would venture that many places do have good disaster plans but I have my doubts about many others, even though they ARE mandated.

    I don't know how well and far in advance they can realistically plan for their pts, much less their staff. I see where actual in-house resources would soon be sorely limited and difficult to replace if used up quicker than anticipated under normal SOP. I mean, even outside vendors would be affected, and I'm thinking food, linens, PHARMACY (for pts), etc. And this doesn't address the need for SPACE (like auditoriums or dorms), hygienic facilities, etc. needed for staff.

    I have been lucky to never have experienced any prolonged disaster where I've worked. I have expeirenced short duration water loss with plumbing issues, loss of power/gas in the kitchen, heater/AC problems, electricity loss with reliance on backup generators. As OP mentioned, things became difficult for continued delivery of care to pts (not even planning for staff).

    In emergency planning, I see large corp facilities much like the old plantations or kingdom palaces - able to sustain ALL themselves for a while. But others who depend on others ...

    Like for OP, it behooves employees to be proactive for their own basic needs. Besides the need for emergency food supplies, there'll be a need for clothing and toiletries (incl monthly sanitary stuff). Keep that bag packed at the ready!

    And yeah - they need more respect!
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    In the case of my particular hospital, I think they had plans in place but were overwhelmed. On day shift, my unit had 6 out of 10 nurses call out due to the storm, not to mention many support staff. And then there were the "social admissions" - people who had lost power and came to the ER and were admitted when they would not have been otherwise. And then there were the family members of people who had been admitted who took over the pt lounge or parked themselves in the hallway and never went home. And family members would could not make it in due to the storm ringing the phone off the hook with no secretary to cover the phones. I'm not sure where the off duty staff was sleeping, but I know they had to be moved to make room for the new admits.

    My hospital did feed us. Getting caught up to the point where I felt comfortable enough to leave the floor to get food was my biggest problem.

    I've never seen anything quite like it. Other places I've worked sent out emails a few days in advance advising us what accommodations would be made available, if there would be sleeping quarters made available for those who opted to come in ahead of the storm. We fell short in that area for sure.

    What I have learned, is that nomatter how good the hospitals intentions were, sometimes plans fall short. I know that my hospital was already making plans to do better in the future. And while I appreciate that, I feel that it's up to me to plan better to be sure I have what I need if/when the next disaster strikes.


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