Hospitals treat few cold-related illnesses

Local hospitals have treated some — but not a lot — of patients stricken by the bitter cold.

"People have done a pretty good job staying inside and going out only when necessary," said Dr. Jason Konzelmann, an emergency-room doctor at Carle Foundation Hospital.

Konzelmann said Carle hospital saw a handful of hypothermia cases — fewer than five — Sunday night and has had no patients with cold-weather illnesses by midmorning Monday.

Presence Covenant Medical Center was treating one possible frostbite case Monday morning and Presence United Samaritans Medical Center had two hypothermia patients likely to be admitted Monday morning, hospital spokeswomen said.

One of the United Samaritans patients had frostbite on one hand and had been trapped inside a car, hospital spokeswoman Gretchen Yordy said.

Both Presence hospitals began putting up staff overnight Saturday to keep them running through the weekend and Monday, Yordy said.

Carle Vice President of Hospital Operations Lynne Barnes said a group of volunteer drivers provided rides to work for some hospital employees Sunday night and Monday morning.

About 125 Carle employees stayed overnight at the hospital on cots and more than 125 other employees stayed overnight with friends and family to get to work, she said.

The hospital provided employees free meals to keep them going and is prepared to offer employees cots for Monday night as well, she said.

"We are fully staffed and ready to rumble," she said.

The bitter cold and snow closed most area medical facilities other than hospitals, including some convenient-care facilities.

Most Carle sites will open as normal on Tuesday. Carle facilities at Rantoul, Tuscola and Mattoon and Carle Medical Supply in Urbana will open at noon if public roads at those sites are passable.

Konzelmann advises staying indoors unless going out is absolutely necessary.

"Prevention is the crux of what everyone should be doing."

For those who must go outside, he advises:

— Dress in layers and especially cover your head and face. Most heat loss is through the head.

— Stay hydrated but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

— Avoid tight boots and multiple sock layers. Feet need room for blood to circulate.

— Minimize time outdoors. Skin damage from frostbite can occur in five minutes in these temperatures.

Sections (3):News, Local, Weather
Topics (1):Health Care

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