In making the decision to close our campus last week, the safety of students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors was the No. 1 priority. Thanks to the tireless efforts of parking, landscaping, security, facilities and police staff, operations at KU Medical Center were back up and running within two days of the snowstorm. By providing safe passage to the hospital and its clinics, these same people made sure that patient care services at The University of Kansas Hospital were not compromised. By the end, 115 dedicated employees will have worked more than 200 around-the-clock hours, starting early Tuesday morning (Feb. 4) through the weekend, to ensure that campus life gets back to normal.
"We manage snow events as emergencies," explained Rick Johnson, associate vice chancellor and chief of police. "After last year's storms, we identified lessons learned. From those lessons, we were better equipped to handle the recent snow blast and to execute processes we didn't have in place last year. As a result, we were able to resume operations more quickly and efficiently."
What worked well
The first day was focused on keeping up with the snow accumulation. One new process that worked well was organizing two separate snow crews that worked in 16-hour shifts, allowing eight hours of rest and recovery. Christine Howard, landscaping manager, also activated the seasonal employees she hired last November in anticipation of events like this. More than 20 seasonal employees showed up to help the 15-man crews. Additionally, the crews received help from 25 contract employees. With this new staffing format, crews kept up with the snowfall, keeping pathways clear for patients and essential staff.
Meanwhile, facilities prepared for the heavy snowfall by protecting the air handling units from getting blocked by snow. They also made sure the campus and buildings were secure, maintained their 24/7 operations, cleaned entryways, delivered and stored temperature-sensitive packages for research, and more.
Collaboration among KU Medical Center, The University of Kansas Hospital and The University of Kansas Physicians was also a critical success factor. The university suspended parking guidelines so any employee who needed to be here as well as patients who needed care could park in the parking garages. While offering a safe place to park, it also made it easier for crews to keep the lots and streets clear. Similar to last year, the university also offered overnight lodging space for hospital and university employees.
Above and beyond
Many employees voluntarily chose university accommodations and stayed overnight so they wouldn't miss their shifts. Everyone was a team player for the greater good. And this team spirit was not just limited to the confines of the campus.
The hospital was at risk of not receiving their medical supplies as the delivery trucks could not back down to the warehouse docks due to the snow. The university sent employees to this offsite warehouse on 78th Street and Nieman Road in Shawnee and with their assistance, the hospital was able to get these much-needed supplies for patients.
"We have a lot of examples of how our employees went above and beyond during this snowstorm, just as they did last year," said Steffani Webb, vice chancellor of administration. "I am always blown away by the dedication and selfless acts demonstrated by our staff. It makes me proud! And I am confident that we are well equipped, with the best employees and improved processes, to handle whatever comes our way."
Thank you to everyone who went above and beyond!