South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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June 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 12

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A Collaborative Readiness

MDCHPC technically stands for Miami-Dade County Hospital Preparedness Consortium; however Heather Rohan, Co-chair, aptly sums it up as a "Resolve to be Ready"

Established by the Miami-Dade County Health Department in 2006, the Consortium serves as a forum to harness all local resources in preparation for emergency situations. Hospitals, local, state and federal government emergency agencies, and community individuals join to share public health info and capabilities, create economies of scale in training exercises, and foster creative thinking in modeling a system that provides the most effective deployment of staff, volunteers, facilities, equipment and supplies to provide an effective emergency response to any and all disaster events.

With a population of almost 2.5 million people and 30+ hospitals located in Miami-Dade County, preparation is paramount to ensuring the health and wellbeing of our community, according to Rohan. As CEO of Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, Rohan is familiar with the operational challenges of needing to rouse all hands on deck in an emergency. She extols the Consortium efforts in terms of their value to reduce redundancy and duplication of effort and to insure readiness.

"Hospitals are cities in and of themselves and hold mock disaster drills on a regular basis to test our readiness," she explained, "however, through the Consortium all involved personnel can better prepare for emergencies beyond our walls, letting other institutions know what kind of assistance we can share or need, whether it is extra personnel, beds, medications, or even food and generators."

Beyond clinical expertise, hospitals can often access on-hand, skilled expertise in security, transportation, engineering, maintenance, environmental services, and procurement which are valuable in setting up shelters, directing patient traffic or finding access to materials or equipment.

One of the Consortiumís plans is to provide an on-line compendium of available resources to share in the event of an emergency.

"Through coordinated communication we can know where additional resources may be accessed, and thatís what being prepared means!" according to Rohan.

Another outcome of the effort is to build community trust and share information regarding appropriate readiness steps before, during and after an emergency. The Consortiumís goal is to include experts from all phases of emergency preparedness. During a sentinel event a knowledgeable roadmap from preplanning to preparation, response and recovery, is vital to sustainability during the disaster and a quick return to normalcy as soon as possible.

For example, Florida is home to many seniors and residents with special needs. One of the Consortium collateral goals is to prepare materials that will help mitigate their health crisis and provide guidelines for what residents might need to have on hand in the event of a disaster. Advice on what types and quantities of their medications to have on hand for the immediate crisis, or what facilities might continue to provide dialysis or other therapies during an unusual event helps them better prepare for their own routine health needs and not overburden a system in a time of anticipated heavy utilization.

Julie Zaharatos, Health Analyst coordinates the MDCHPC agenda in partnership with the Health Department and utilizes her experience in orchestrating successful liaisons among organizations around health issues. "We aim to identify emergency response participants whose teams can develop and deploy existing strengths to insure a coordinated response to any disaster."

Communities depend on hospitals for health care during all types of events. The consortium will help them share best practices and address county-wide issues related to hazardous events and ultimately reduce health and socio-economic impact to the community.

According to Zaharatos, "We are currently circulating a memo of understanding seeking 100% commitment from all hospitals to heighten collaboration before during and after a hazardous event."

For more information regarding the Miami-Dade County Hospital Preparedness Consortium (MDCHPC), visit www.mdchpc.org.
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