South Florida Hospital News
Tuesday February 18, 2020

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June 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 12




Hospice of Palm Beach County – Always Prepared

Hospice of Palm Beach County has the experience and knowledge to provide care and consultation in a prompt, professional and well-organized manner in a crisis situation to include hurricane season. Internally, emergency and disaster plans are managed by a team of employees and externally the Crisis Response Team works with the community.

Hurricane preparation Hospice of Palm Beach County is similar to that of a hospital with nearly 1,000 employees and 1,100 beds - only its beds are spread throughout all of Palm Beach County. When a storm is pending, the patient care staff visits each patient to ensure they have an adequate supply of needed medications, oxygen and other supplies for the duration of the storm and re-establish patient care service afterwards as quickly as possible. Hospice of Palm Beach County knows the location plans of each patient during the storm. Assistance is provided to those patients residing in a mandatory evacuation area to find a substitute location. If several patients are placed in a facility, staff is assigned to assist with the care, so as to not overload the facility.

Hospice of Palm Beach County’s Crisis Response Team

As the main shelter for storms, The Charles W. Gerstenberg Hospice Center increases two-fold the number of patients it can serve, as well as provides accommodations for employees, their families and pets who need to evacuate or work. Staff are assigned to work before and after the storm, with a separate designated team that works in each of the inpatient units during the storm. After the storm, Hospice of Palm Beach County provides child care programs for employees until schools are re-opened.

A coordinated team effort and detailed planning resulted in relatively smooth operations during the storms of 204 and 2005, fortunately with minimal damage to any of the buildings. The major change that was made after the last hurricanes was to install gas tanks to have fuel capacity for staff as well as diesel to extend operations of the generator to a full week.

Hospice of Palm Beach County’s Crisis Response Team (CRT) is available after disaster and other crises to provide consultation, education and crisis intervention support to the community. Current research demonstrates that intervention can: Enhance functionality (staff able to perform job duties more productively); increase cohesion among a work group; show that administration/organization cares about personnel; enhance positive coping strategies; normalize experience of emotions, behaviors, and other reactions after a traumatic event or disaster; and reduce isolation.

Over the years the CRT program has sought the highest level of certification and includes certified trauma specialists. The team has helped in various corporate and agency settings including hospitals, assisted and skilled nursing facilities, surgery centers, as well as attorney and physician offices along the health care continuum. The CRT coordinator provides training and is available for presentations.

Though reactions to disasters may vary between individuals, there are some common reactions. These are normal. Sometimes these stress reactions appear immediately following the disaster; may be delayed for hours, days, weeks, or even months. and may be categorized as physiological, cognitive/intellectual, emotional, and behavioral symptoms.

Hospice of Palm Beach County offers these tips for support during a disaster: Maintain structure in your life; keep active; allow or make time for rest and/or relaxation; strive to balance eating habits and sleep; use supportive people in your life; utilize other supports such as clergy, crisis lines, counselors, or people that have been through something similar; make room for expression of feelings, especially anger, in a safe way - ideas include writing in a journal, going to a batting cage/driving range, etc., pulling weeds, punching a pillow, shredding paper, and so on; If possible, help someone else. Often in helping others we can feel better ourselves. Know that you are not alone- support is available!

For more information about Hospice of Palm Beach County, call (888) 848-5200 or visit
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