MARIETTA - A local hospital did not skip one heart beat during last night's ice storm, with staff sleeping on cots between shifts to complete necessary surgeries and deliver more than a dozen Cobb babies.
Because of the hazardous driving conditions, physician offices, urgent care clinics, out-patient care centers, and administrative building in the WellStar Health System were closed Wednesday.
But the doors were open at the Kennestone Hospital, on the corner of Tower Road and Church Street in Marietta. And thank goodness, because one type of medical emergency could not be delayed.
"We had a high number of babies that decided to be born last night," President of WellStar Kennestone Hospital Dan Woods said Wednesday morning about Tuesday night.
Between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, there were 16 babies delivered at Kennestone Hospital.
Hospital staff stays overnight
Kennestone Hospital operates with two staffing groups, a day shift that starts at 7 a.m. and a night shift that takes over at 7 p.m.
Although some employees could not traverse the roads of their neighborhoods to make it into work, other staff members with four-wheel drives offered to come in even though not on the schedule, Woods said.
After watching one trauma surgeon perform a procedure during the ice storm, Woods said he had a proud moment.
"I walked away thinking nothing is going to stop these guys," Woods said.
Woods said the hospital was functioning with a high-level of preparedness, given the advanced warning about Georgia's state of emergency.
Three-hundred cots were delivered before the storm hit, and staff brought in extra mattresses to fill conference areas like dorm rooms.
"Given the circumstances, everyone is locked in," Woods said about the numerous employees who have already spent one night at Kennestone Hospital, including some 50 to 60 physicians.
Woods said the WellStar Health System is prepared for the worst, and will continue to have staff sleep at the hospital for a couple more nights.
"Right now, it makes sense until Friday morning," Woods said.
Brain, heart surgeries continue on schedule
Although Woods said WellStar Health pushed back all elective procedures, the operating rooms were running on Wednesday, with brain surgeries completed and cancerous tumors removed.
Woods said the Kennestone cardiovascular team, comprised of 10 staff members including surgeons and nurses, stayed at the hospital Tuesday night to perform at least two scheduled open-heart surgeries on Wednesday.
Families and visitors of the patients also stayed at Kennestone hospital through the night.
Even the Kennestone Hospital pharmacy remained open during the storm with the pharmacists sleeping onsight Tuesday night.
The pharmacy remains open just to serve patients housed at Kennestone Hospital, but also for Cobb residents who are not able to find another open pharmacy.
"We can be your port in the storm," Woods said.
Atherton Place, a senior living complex tucked behind Kennestone Hospital, also had 54 staff members sleeping over in extra apartments to provide medical care and security.
EMS crews traverse roads with ease
By Wednesday morning, Woods said he had spoken with several ambulance drivers who said the city has been mostly quiet.
The drivers told Woods it helps that the 911 call center has only been contacted by people with emergency medical needs.
That is a large difference from two weeks ago, when 2 inches of snow littered roads with minor car accidents and stranded motorists who called for help.
This time, Woods said many of the roads in Marietta were heavily treated by Cobb road crew trucks Tuesday night.
"There is one out here right now, so they're not quitting," Woods said Wednesday morning.
In case the city looses power, Woods said Kennestone Hospital has three very large generators that are tested weekly.
One tank on a generator can last 96 hours, he said. And fuel companies have already been contacted about possibly delivering more supply.
"They are on alert status and they will come fill us up," Woods said.