A winter storm that prompted Tennesee Gov. Bill Haslam to declare a State of Emergency couldn’t halt the will of Signature staff members to make sure the needs of residents at Standing Stone Care & Rehab Center were met regardless.
The storm knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Tennessee including Standing Stone Care & Rehab, in Monterey, and FEMA has set up a relief station in the area.
But Standing Stone Administrator Cindy Wilson, who gets teary-eyed recalling the past weekend, said numerous facility staff members and others were bound and determined to provide relief themselves.
“There’s so many heroes, I’m scared to death I’m going to leave somebody out,” she said. “I am just so proud of all the staff.”
The facility lost power about 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, and downed trees and power lines prevented many from making it to work. Third shift stayed on while some attempted to navigate the roads anyway.
Among them was Assistant Maintenance Director Art Dauwalter, who drove to pick up the facility’s housekeeping supervisor. In the meantime, a tree fell in the road, making it impassable.
“He walked five miles to get back to us,” Wilson said.
With Wilson temporarily stranded 22 miles away in Crossville, LPN Charlotte Walker took charge of the building as the dietary team arrived to make sure hot meals were served and therapists assisted.
“We had dietary staff who slept here Saturday night, sleeping on chairs and couches, because they knew these residents had to have food,” Wilson said.
Many CNAs and nurses did the same, she added. One RN was accompanied by her husband, a paramedic, who offered another pair of hands. That nurse, along with Wilson and another restorative nurse, served as CNAs Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“That was a hard 12 hours of CNA work!” Wilson said. “But there was so much laughter through the night – no complaining, just a lot of laughter.”
With so much strain being put on the generator powering the facility, circuit breakers began to trip. Low air-loss mattresses were replaced with regular mattresses, and residents using oxygen concentrators were switched to cylinders to ease the load on the generator. A contingency plan was developed to relocate patients to sister facility Signature HealthCARE of Putnam if it became necessary, and a local rescue squad was eventually able to deliver diesel to power the generator.
Power was restored shortly before 11 p.m. Saturday night, and the team on hand made sure the facility was cleaned thoroughly before the next morning’s shift arrived. A social worker took a survey on Sunday to gather resident feedback concerning whether their needs had been met during the weekend’s events. There was not a single complaint, a feat Wilson attributes wholly to the team effort at Standing Stone.
“It just goes on and on,” she said. “I can’t give my staff enough praise.”