CHA News Article

Hospital Preparedness Strengthened Through Disaster Planning Conference

CHA’s 10th annual Disaster Planning for California Hospitals, held this week in Sacramento (see photo gallery), enabled more than 750 attendees to affirm their commitment to “Planning for today, tomorrow and beyond.” During the three-day conference, hospital staff and state and county health officials gathered to strengthen hospital disaster preparedness and build collaboration to ensure continuity of care.

Attendees were captivated by the moving presentation of Dr. Kimberly Glassman of NYU Langone Medical Center, who recounted the closing of the hospital when the back-up generator died during Superstorm Sandy, one of the most destructive hurricanes in U.S. history. Dr. Glassman applauded the heroic efforts of staff who safely evacuated 300 patients, including 20 neonatal infants and 45 critical care patients.

Dr. Umair Shah of Harris County Public Health & Environmental Services stressed the importance of developing Crisis Standards of Care on a statewide and regional level. He encouraged stakeholders to use the Institute of Medicine’s (IOMs) Crisis Standards of Care Report and template to drive those efforts and the accompanying difficult ethical discussions and decisions. Dr. Shah served on the IOM committee that developed the standards.            

The conference concluded with the harrowing story of an unprecedented burn surge incident in Taiwan that led to severe burns of more than 500 young adults. Dr. Christina Catlett, associate director, John Hopkins Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, shared her experience leading a medical team to assist with patients’ needs assessment and offered practical guidance on how California hospitals can prepare for a burn surge. She encouraged hospitals to considering training staff in specialized burn care.

In addition, 20 breakout sessions highlighted a variety of topics including Cal/OSHA’s impending workplace violence prevention regulations; an update on The Joint Commission standards and the top vulnerabilities for hospitals; a new incident tracking tool developed by Kaiser Permanente; palliative care models for triage; the devastating mudslide in Oso, Washington that resulted in mass casualties; financial oversight practices; and strategies for preparing for an EHR system failure.

During the pre-conference workshop, titled “Infectious Diseases: Preparing for the Next Outbreak, What we Learned from Ebola,” numerous presenters shared lessons learned from last year’s Ebola outbreak, including Dr. Daniel Johnson of the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the admitting physician for three patients diagnosed with the Ebola virus. Dr. Robert Schooley with UC San Diego gave an update on emerging infectious diseases. Additionally, panelists from UC Davis Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento, Sacramento County EMS, Sacramento County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health reported on their experiences coordinating care, testing and transporting four patients suspected of having the Ebola virus.

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