GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Schools and businesses had to shut down in preparation of Hurricane Sally, and so did Memorial Hospital.
For 24 hours, the hospital employed its “Hurricane Alert Status” at its campuses in Gulfport and Wiggins that required hospital employees, visitors and patients to shelter in place.
While an office space may not make the best bedroom, April LaFontaine came prepared.
"We knew that we could potentially have to stay here when we arrived to work, and I was digging in my closet and found my son’s summer camp set and said, ‘You know. This will work just perfect for a cot,’ " said LaFontaine, chief administration officer at Memorial. “So that’s what I grabbed.”
She knows there is no pre-planning décor in an emergency.
“It just so happens to be very cute,” she said with a laugh.
A sense of humor is welcomed during a stressful shutdown, but LaFontaine said her staff is prepared.
“It’s always an emotional time, every time we have to lock down the facility, especially what happened to all of us 15 years ago,” LaFontaine said. “It’s very emotional, but our staff is resilient and they come here with their arms open ready to care for our community, so it’s always a very positive experience for us.”
The Emergency Department remained open for life-threatening or other emergency medical conditions.
Lockdown isn’t anything new to Christine Weiland, director of trauma and emergency services.
“Any disaster is stressful, but at Memorial Hospital, us living on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we prepare for all types of emergencies and disasters,” she said. “Therefore, when you prepare well with your teams, you decrease that stress because they know what they’re doing.”
The hospital lifted the Hurricane Alert Status at 7 p.m. Tuesday.