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On-call midwife stays in ice fishing house during blizzard

Paige and Rich Hardy parked their ice fishing house in a University of Minnesota Morris parking lot because Paige was on call at Stevens Community Medical Center during the blizzard. The couple lives in Chokio. Courtesy of Paige Hardy

MORRIS, Minn. — Babies were due to arrive and nurse midwife Paige Hardy had to make sure she was there for the delivery at Stevens Community Medical Center in Morris during the April 11 and 12 blizzard.

Hardy and her husband Rich set up the couple’s Ice Castle fish house in a parking lot at the University of Minnesota Morris on Wednesday, April 10, to make sure Hardy could cover her on-call shift from 8 a.m. April 11 to 8 a.m. April 12. Rich Hardy works at UMM and got permission to park the house on campus.

Hardy lives in Chokio, about 14 miles from Morris.

“I have driven too many times on bad roads,” Hardy said. “It’s scary. I have moms that are due.”

Rather than take a chance to drive during a blizzard or stay in a motel, the Hardys decided to bring the ice fishing house to Morris. The UMM parking lot is just a few blocks from SCMC.

“It’s easier to do it this way. It’s less stressful,” Hardy said. No family wants a stressed nurse midwife at delivery, Hardy said with a laugh.

The couple bought the ice fishing house after they spent several days ice fishing in a primitive house on the Lake of the Woods. Hardy said she appreciates the isolation and quiet of ice fishing but never again wanted to fish in a portable or primitive ice fishing house.

While its primary use is for winter ice fishing, the couple camps in the house during the summer.

“We actually drove it to Pennsylvania one summer — I don’t recommend that — for a family reunion,” Hardy said. “We had people come out of the woodwork to come look at it. They asked what the holes were in the bottom and we explained that you drill holes for ice fishing. They thought we were crazy.”

But that was in the summer in Pennsylvania. While Hardy has been able to joke about ice fishing in the parking lot during the blizzard, saying she “broke the auger breaking through the concrete,” she takes comfort knowing she can make it to work during the blizzard.

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