Shelby Baptist helps dozens stranded in winter storm

Shelby Baptist Medical Center helped many people who otherwise would have been stranded in the winter storm. (File)

Shelby Baptist Medical Center helped many people who otherwise would have been stranded in the winter storm. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

Brentwood, Tenn., resident Debbie Heibert was prepared to sleep in her vehicle overnight on Jan. 28, but soon realized she picked a good exit to take off of Interstate 65.

Heibert, who was returning to Brentwood after visiting her daughter in Pensacola, Fla., was one of thousands of motorists caught off guard when a winter storm slammed the area, making travel on I-65 impossible.

After making it to Alabaster’s exit 238, Heibert discovered local hotels were full.

“She got off at Alabaster, and I told her there was a hospital that she might be able to spend the night, and at least get out of the elements,” said Heibert’s husband, Skip. “I was worried that she may have to spend the night in her car.”

Heibert made it to Shelby Baptist Medical Center, where she and many others in her situation were welcomed by hospital staff members.

“I went in, and the lobby was just full of people,” Heibert said. “The staff kept coming in and asking us if we needed anything, and they gave us blankets. They fed us all for free.”

SBMC Director of Business Development April Weaver said the hospital did not hesitate to open its doors to those in need, even while the medical center was facing issues of its own.

“In situations like this, we do what we need to do to make sure the community is taken care of,” Weaver said, noting she was unsure how many stranded motorists the hospital took in. “We are always proud to help in any way we can.”

Because of the storm, the hospital was unable to discharge patients, and relied on the National Guard to transport nurses to the hospital from remote areas.

“We work through it, we always do,” Weaver said on Jan. 30. “It truly has been a team effort.”

After spending two nights in the medical center’s labor and delivery lobby, Heibert was able to leave the hospital the morning of Jan. 30 to return home.

“I’ve never been stranded like that before,” Heibert said. “I am thankful for the hospital. If it wasn’t for them, I would have had to stay in my car.”