In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, local medical officials are preparing for chaos, should a natural disaster wipe out a hospital's ability to care for its parents. Billings Clinic experts simulated a real-life hospital evacuation.
The likelihood of Billings Clinic's power grid being completely wiped out by a natural disaster is slim. Regardless of the odds, Billings Clinic Safety and Emergency Director, Joe Marcotte, said it's best to be prepared. "We've had a plan for many years, and we're now in the process of exploring the physical steps of moving patients," Marcotte said.
Marcotte said it's a chance to review the communication between community partners like American Medical Response, St. Vincent Healthcare, and Riverstone Health. "Any time we practice, in fact we never walk away from an exercise, in which we don't seek to learn some lesson. We consider them to be a positive event. The lessons learned are what builds us into the future," Marcotte said.
Billings Clinic Patient Safety Director, Nancy Iversen, said it's a chance to ensure the hospital's 150-250 patients are safe, in case the facility can no longer care for them. "We're taking this seriously. We assume that this is a real event, and we appreciate everyone's time their busy schedules to do these exercises with us," Nancy Iversen said.
Once the simulation is complete, Nancy said organizers will discuss ways to improve the procedure. "We have certain roles within the organization, but when you do these exercises, you get into an incident command role, and that is exciting. Because we really want to do it well," Iversen said.
Hospital workers regularly simulate an event where there are mass casualties, like plane crashes or natural disasters. Billings Clinic officials said this is the first time they simulated a scenario, where the hospital facility was the center of a disaster.