South Florida Hospital News
Sunday April 11, 2021

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June 2007 - Volume 3 - Issue 12

Ahh ... Summertime in South Florida: Backyard Pool Parties, Ice Cream Sundaes, and Hurricane Preparedness

Disaster preparedness and planning are necessities and an integral component of hospital strategic planning in meeting the needs of the community and its residents. From biohazardous spills to terrorism to mass accident casualties to weather-related incidents, Columbia Hospital is prepared to implement its disaster plan at any moment.

Damage done by Hurricane Frances

Now that hurricane season is upon us, Columbia Hospital is well prepared to take on whatever Mother Nature has in store. Since the plan has been tested several times over the past few years, improvements have been made based on the experiences encountered during and after the storms. For example, during one hurricane water from the City of West Palm Beach was unavailable. "Without water we can’t run our air conditioning and other vital systems," said Michael Perry, Director of Plant Operations/Maintenance, at Columbia Hospital. "We now have a well installed to assure a supply of water." Everyone remembers the gas shortages following the hurricanes, and even though hospitals are on the priority list for supplies of gas, the hospital decided to also install a gasoline tank for emergency use.

"Staffing before, during, and after a hurricane is much more streamlined," said Valerie Jackson, CEO of Columbia Hospital. "Our employees now know what to expect since we’ve done this a couple times." In addition to housing and feeding families of employees who are scheduled to "camp out" at the hospital during a hurricane, the hospital also provides shelter for employees’ pets.

"Physicians who volunteered in the past have already committed to volunteering again this year," said Jackson. "We are very fortunate to have such a committed group of physicians and employees willing to stay for days at the hospital, and in some cases without their families."

Despite the sense of confidence that resulted following the past several hurricanes, drills will be held periodically and meetings and conference calls with key agencies in the county will be scheduled over the summer months. "We prepare as much as we can, but sometimes things happen that you cannot foresee," said Mike Perry.

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