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Front Page » September 6, 2007 » Local News » Hospital's emergency system proves effective
Published 2,953 days ago

Hospital's emergency system proves effective

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Dr. Glori Allen works with nurses Danelle Tatton and Evelyn Olsen to help patient Phillip Pappas during a drill in the emergency room at Castleview Hospital. Practices and drills are what make for effective planning and execution during disasters. A prime example occurred on Aug. 16 when rescue team members who were injured in the second collapse at the Crandall Canyon mine were transported to the hospital for treatment.

Overwhelming circumstances have often shown the problems health care facilities can have during a crisis.

In recent years, hospitals have developed plans to deal with all types of situations through a program called the hospital emergency incident command system.

On Aug. 16, HEICS was tested thoroughly following the mine rescue tragedy that occurred at Crandall Canyon.

"We are constantly reviewing our external and internal disaster plans," explained Jeff Manley, chief administrator at Castleview Hospital. "An internal disaster would be something that happens inside the hospital that could affect our operations dramatically. An external disaster means we have to be on alert for almost anything that happens outside our walls."

The HEICS plan originated from California hospitals that faced dramatic consequences when a series of earthquakes hit the southern part of the state a few years ago.

The plan, as the emergency guidelines been adopted by Castleview Hospital, worked almost perfectly on the night the injured miners were brought to the medical treatment facility.

"I was very pleased the way things worked within the hospital," said Manley. "Our drills we have run regularly over the years paid off. It was awesome to watch our staff operate during that crisis."

When word was received that the facility in Price would be getting as many as 28 injured people from the mine, the staff went into action.

The hospital in Price has a plan that includes a labor pool that meets at the back of the building so people can be drawn from the pool for any number of jobs.

The influx of help was managed by Dave Donaldson, the human resources director at the hospital.

"People who work here are trained to come into the hospital when they hear of an emergency," pointed out Manley. "In that case, we tried to get a hold of all the doctors we had, but some of them were unreachable for one reason or another."

"However, by the time the second patient arrived in the emergency room, four of our five emergency room doctors were already there. They came in on their own," continued the chief administrator.

Even the pink lady volunteers all showed up to help and do what they could.

During the emergency, Terry Watkins was assigned to act as the clinical operations coordinator. Her job as the chief nursing officer at the hospital put her in the middle of the fray to help the injured patients.

In addition, the hospital could not forget about the patients already admitted into the facility or people in the community who might need help for other reasons.

"Because our employees came in when they heard about the emergency, the rest of the hospital kept running as normal, despite the fact that we were in lockdown during the first few hours," said Watkins. "During that time, our doctor to nurse ratio was much higher than normal."

She indicated that the community responded well by staying away from the emergency room during the crisis.

"We didn't see a lot of the usual things we see on a normal Thursday night," said Watkins. "Later in the evening, some patients came in, but I guess people realized what we were in the middle of."

Manley ran the main command center with runners standing nearby to check on various departments and functions of the hospital.

However, working with injured patients isn't the only thing that the hospital had to deal with during the crisis.

First, there were the families that came thinking their miner might be one of the injured, because names had not been released.

Second was the worldwide media attention that immediately shifted from the entrance to Crandall Canyon mine in Huntington Canyon to the front lawn of Castleview Hospital.

And last, there was the fact that when the governor announced he would be showing up at the hospital, dozens of other people arrived for various reasons.

"The families were our first concern," said Dannette Moynier, the social worker at the hospital. "Over a hundred people showed up at first, thinking their family member might be one of the injured. As the evening wore on that number reduced as we sent people home after we got the names of who had arrived."

Moynier saw family members come in distraught, not knowing what they would face. She said they were all fantastic and strong. She was also there when the family of Brandon Kimber faced the fact that, despite being transported to Castleview, the miner had died.

"It was painful," said.Moynier "At the time, the governor was in the room and he saw the pain that family faced."

The lockdown and keeping unauthorized persons out of the hospital was a major endeavor and a success.

Manley said every law enforcement agency in the county responded to see if they could help.

And then there was the media.

"We had never faced anything like that out on our lawn or anywhere," said Manley.

Moynier said the hospital wanted to protect people involved from the media as much as possible so at times they actually snuck patients out the back of the hospital.

Manley was on international television that night, not a pleasant limelight under the circumstances. But he and local officials reacted well under the pressure and gave a good impression of the two county area.

The plan the hospital used to manage the situation and operation of it impressed more than local people too.

"It just so happened that the day of the incident a joint hospital commission official was here for an inspection and review," said Manley. "He went back to his hotel about 3:30 p.m. that afternoon and then watched that evening as the whole thing unfolded before him. He told me the next day that in his 20 years of working as a commissioner we had the best disaster response he had ever seen."

Along with the hospital, local residents rallied in support of the miners and families.

"The whole community in both counties have faced this tragedy so well, with such strength and so professionally," concluded Manley. "I'm not from here. But because of our communities response, I sure am proud to say I live here."

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