Some medical offices stay open even during winter weather, saving lives through essential treatment

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Many of us like to hunker down during a snowstorm, bring out the blankets, and make a fire.

Medical personnel might not all have that luxury though. For dialysis clinics like Fresenius Medical Care, it's often a matter of life or death for patients that they find ways to take care of patients.

Patients experiencing kidney failure need regular treatment three days a week.

"If they miss a treatment, it can be detrimental to them," said charge nurse Lesley Tighe.

She said it's essential that these treatment centers stay open, even when other offices in the area are closed.

Tim Talley, Director of Operations for the company, said the staff are all aware they may have a long day Wednesday into Thursday.

"In weather like tomorrow, we're moving up [appointment times,] he said. "People will start coming in at  2:00 AM. We'll start running treatments at 4:00 AM."

"We start early," echoed Rhonda Carter, the other Director of Operations at Fresenius. "We can bring them in and [at least] give them a partial treatment."

Some patients stay at one dialysis treatment for more than five hours. It's a routine they need to build into their day, and when roads are treacherous it may not be possible to do it all. Some of them have even come in a day early, said Carter, to get a full treatment in before road conditions start to deteriorate.

Staff may need to stay in hotels to be available for their shifts, to keep them safe too.

Talley said it may be an inconvenience, but it comes with the territory of saving lives.

"We get to know these people and form relationships with our patients," said Talley. "This is what they expect from us. But this is also what we expect for ourselves. Because they're part of our family now."

"They look at us as their family as well, because they see us so often," echoed Tighe.  She says it's important to take care of family.