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Ivinson Memorial Hospital Prepares for the Total Solar Eclipse

Nick Learned, Townsquare Media
Nick Learned, Townsquare Media

The total solar eclipse is coming up quickly and many preparations are being made statewide to prepare for the influx of people expected to pour into Wyoming to view to cosmic event.

While Laramie is not in the path of totality, a wave of eclipse viewers flooding into town is still being anticipated by many.

Ivinson Memorial Hospital is prepared for that wave. Wanda Hulit is the head of the IMH preparedness committee and she says the hospital has been preparing for some time to deal with the unique problems an event like a solar eclipse will bring.

Hulit says the hospital has been doing research on some of the particular problems the eclipse will bring and how to properly prepare. One of those problems, she says, is the possible influx of patients with retinal burns.

“We have had our emergency room doctors and staff review what to do if people come in with eye burns,” Hulit said.

Hulit said they are expecting people to come from all over the country and possibly the world. She says the hospital is also preparing for patients who are not used to the high elevation in Laramie.

“Some people don’t realize we are at 7,200 feet. So if they have any kind of breathing disorder, or if they are a little sick when they come, sometimes people can get really sick while they are here.”

Hulit says the hospital has extra staff scheduled to be on call during the day of the eclipse as well, in the event they get a surge of patients.

Ivinson Memorial Hospital has never had to prepare for an eclipse before and Hulit said brainstorming all the possible situations the hospital may encounter was a vital part of preparing for the wave of people. The preparedness committee’s monthly meetings allowed staff from every department in the hospital to discuss possible scenarios that might come up during the eclipse.

“During the meetings, we might have somebody say, ‘you know, has anybody thought about this, what about this?” Hulitt said. “It’s kind of a group effort.”

The committee also drew from national information about the eclipse to help them know what kind of situations they may need to be ready for.

“There has been a lot of stuff put out there by the World Health Organization and all kind of national news on the eclipse, so we take information from that into account, also.”

Hulit says that while Laramie has never had to prepare for some specifics associated with an eclipse, Laramie is used to dealing with fluctuations in population because of the University of Wyoming.

“It’s kind of the same thing as when we have a big surge of people for, say, a football game” Hulit said. She said the hospital can draw on those experiences to predict what kind of scenarios they will be facing.

Hulit said Laramie’s size is another advantage it has in dealing with these situations.

“We are a small community and a lot of our responders- the police, the sheriff’s and the emergency folks – we all know each other,” Hulit said. “We all work together, so we know what the response can be and we are there when we need to be there.”

Hulit says one of the most important preparatory measures Laramie can take is cooperation.

“It takes a village,” Hulit said. “It takes everybody to plan.”

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