hospitals prepared for incidents
Through equipment and training received through a variety of grants St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals report they are prepared to respond to community health situations.
According to Pam McBride, CVHC/SMHC Grants Coordinator, both facilities have engaged in planning with regional partners, especially public health, on how to respond to a flu pandemic or other mass casualty incidents. “Both hospitals have a clear chain for communicating needs and receiving services from local, regional, state and national partners,” said McBride. “We have expedited means of requesting stockpiled masks and Tamiflu if and when it should become necessary. We also have complete confidence in our state and regional health departments to keep the public informed.”
Through grant opportunities and advance planning, every county in this region has a trailer stocked with supplies to set up alternate flu or mass casualty care sites. The trailers have cots, linens, masks and other supplies. Both CVHC and SMHC have received portable ventilators, extra gurneys and other equipment which are stored on site. Staff regularly have mock major incident drills to prepare for emergencies involving large scale accidents or disease outbreaks.
Both facilities have employee health nurses who instruct and update health care staff on the protocols necessary to contain and report infectious diseases. They are in continual contact with the public health department to provide updates to the health care providers at each facility. They also emphasize the importance of using masks, when necessary, and repeated hand washing using the alcohol hand cleaner dispensers located throughout the hospital and clinics.
“If people feel they have respiratory flu symptoms they should be seen by their medical provider. We’re asking that anyone who calls for such an appointment please notify the reception staff while making the appointment so we can take the necessary precautions,” said Cathie Hylton, RN, SMH Employee Health Nurse.
The Idaho Public Health Department has activated a hotline, 208-748-0400, for information on swine flu and its symptoms. Their website also provides further information, www.idahopublichealth.com The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also addressing the issue, www.cdc.gov.