U.P. Home Health & Hospice commits to patients despite harsh winter weather

MARQUETTE COUNTY — Harsh winter weather often makes travel difficult and sometimes dangerous. However, for U.P. Home Health & Hospice staff, driving is an essential part of the job no matter the conditions.

They’re known as the angels in the little blue cars, and they’re always on the road traveling to patients in need of their services. U.P. Home Health & Hospice takes precautions when it comes to their vehicles in order to keep their employees safe, as well as to ensure that they are able to do their job.

“When we’re taking care of our friends and neighbors, there’s really no such thing as a sick day or a snow day,” said Kori Tossava, Director of Community Services. “We have to make sure that we are caring for them as best we can, regardless of weather conditions. So we do put winter tires on the cars, and every car is equipped with a shovel, an emergency kit, a scraper, and a bunch of things on the off chance that our nurses and our homecare aids need to be able to use them.”

Of course sometimes, especially during the winter months, the weather can get extremely treacherous. It those situations, U.P. Home Health & Hospice staff still find a way to care for their patients who need them the most. Those whose needs aren’t as urgent are never forgotten either.

“There have been some situations, most recently that Thanksgiving storm, where we were shoveling our cars out just as fast as they were getting stuck,” said Tossava. “So in those cases, what we do is we’ll triage. Those patients that we absolutely need to see, we are there for them. For patients that aren’t as critical and we’re just there to help them out, we will reschedule them for the next day. We take the trust that our patients and their families put into us very, very seriously, and that’s always at the forefront of any decision that we have to make.”

Staff also undergo training for driving in various unsafe conditions. U.P. Home Health & Hospice knows the important role they play in the lives of those in their care. They don’t take that commitment lightly, even despite some of the most intense Upper Peninsula weather.