Winter Weather Closes Sanford Clinics
by Rachel Skytta, Reporter
January 16, 2014 4:30 PM
When extreme weather hits, many businesses shut down, and most people tend to stay inside. But what about people in need of medical care?
Several rural Sanford Clinics closed Thurs. due to the wicked weather. Leaving some patients without convenient access to a doctor.
In rural South Dakota, the road to the nearest doctor’s office can be a long one. But what happens when the road disappears in the snow?
“We have a process. We start planning for severe weather well before the time,” said Sanford Clinics V.P., Michele Davis.
Ten Sanford Clinics across South Dakota and nine in Minnesota shut down when they saw the wind and the snow heading their way.
“First and foremost, the safety of our employees and patients is our utmost concern. And many times we will air on the side of caution,” said Davis.
South Dakotans are no strangers to extreme weather, but on rural roads it gets to be too dangerous to even try to drive.
Davis says it’s not worth the risk to try to get to your annual checkup. But what if it’s something more severe?
“Many of our areas that we have clinics there are also hospitals in town, and so of course hospitals do not close,” said Davis.
Not all rural areas with a closed clinic have easy access to a hospital. In blizzard conditions, driving any distance can be dangerous.
“In the utmost of emergencies they would just need to call 911,” said Davis.
Davis says when clinics close, patients will still get the care they need, but they may have to wait.
“A lot of times we will not reopen a clinic that we have closed that day, but we will contact the patients that have been on our schedule and rearrange a time for them to come in,” said Davis.
Closing a medical building could present some problems, but on a blustery winter day, it’s nothing compared to the problems that could come from simply trying to get there.
Davis says there’s no way of knowing exactly when the affected clinics will reopen. It simply depends on road conditions.