While many Callaway County residents were bunkered down safe at home during Monday and Tuesday's blizzard, some employees at Fulton State Hospital were not so lucky.
Because FSH cannot be short-staffed, administrators instigated the institution's mandatory holdover policy, which meant employees at the hospital when the storm started were unable to leave - without facing disciplinary action - in anticipation of their replacements being unable make it in. The Fulton Sun received calls and e-mails from anonymous sources noting the hospital was holding employees.
"The issue is it's in greater numbers than usual; we've had nurses, doctors, recreational care, all levels of staff," the hospital's Chief Operating Officer, Marty Martin-Forman, said Wednesday. "We encouraged them to stay at the hospital - most couldn't get out of the parking lot anyway."
Martin-Forman said FSH tried to ensure employees staying beyond their normal shifts had breaks and places to sleep when they were not actively working, or "covering."
"The staff has been great," she said. "I wish I could thank every one of them."
Martin-Forman said she could not verify how long some staff members had been at the hospital - although many had been there for more than 24 hours - but said Wednesday afternoon that they were starting to send some of them home.
"A couple of hours ago a lot of people who had to stay extra, extra hours were released," Martin-Forman said. "We're still being a little cautious with people who have been there less than 16 hours because we know a lot of the county roads are still bad.
"We're following our procedures; the ones who have been there the longest are being released first."
Asked what kind of compensation employees required to stay beyond their regular shifts may receive, she said anyone who feels they were treated unfairly should speak up.
"I know it's been a long 24 hours," Martin-Forman said. "If anyone doesn't feel they were treated fairly, contact their supervisor or my office, because they did a good job with coverage and we want to make sure everyone is fairly treated."