• Emergency Preparedness

    Posted on October 16th, 2014

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    Ebola Update #2 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 16, 2014

    Thank you for the many positive comments and good suggestions related to the update from Monday. I encourage you to continue to bring forth your comments. As expected, the situation has continued to evolve over the last 48 hours. We continue to closely monitor the Texas Hospital circumstances to learn anything that might apply to us at Baptist Health. One thing that you may not know is that for many years we have used a national expert in emergency preparedness to help us ensure that we are ready for all types of emergencies. He specializes in environmental health, safety and emergency preparedness and response. He has been with us on-site here in Miami all week.

    Next week, we have a national physician expert in Ebola, Aileen Marty, M.D., speaking to our key physicians and nurse leaders on her experience in managing this threat both domestically and through her experiences on the ground in West Africa. Dr. Marty is on the faculty of the FIU College of Medicine and we are fortunate to have her available to us on short notice. Any information that we receive from these meetings will be passed on and incorporated into our practices as appropriate.

    We have all of the necessary personal protective gear available and on-site. If a patient arrives at any of our facilities, all of the equipment needed is here. We will continue to add to our stockpile in the coming days. If there are any changes in recommendations, or new best practices recommended by the CDC, we will implement them immediately.

    Overall, the situation here for us at Baptist Health South Florida remains the same. We have received no patients who are positive for Ebola. There have been no cases in Florida, and the only three cases thus far have been at Texas Presbyterian. However, as stated before, we are a major city with a large population, and many visitors on a daily basis from all over the world. The possibility continues to exist that a patient could turn up in one of our facilities.

    At this point, the Centers for Disease Control have established “SWAT” teams who will be immediately dispatched to the location of any patient who has tested positive for Ebola. The two nurses in Texas were taken to the designated centers at Emory University in Atlanta and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland (there are two more in Nebraska and Montana). While it has not been confirmed as of this writing, we are monitoring closely to understand whether this will be the standard procedure for all infected patients.

    A safe working environment is of utmost importance to us as healthcare professionals, and as caring members of the Baptist Health family. If you feel that you have not received necessary information, training, or guidance about this issue, please raise your hand and say so. Your supervisor and everyone in your chain of command are ready and willing to provide it. They are backed up by the Emergency Preparedness Department, our Infection Control staff and Safety Managers. The information is available, the training is available and the equipment is here.

    Tomorrow is our annual, regularly scheduled Emergency Preparedness Drill. These drills help us improve our response to all potential disasters, and this will as well. Thank you, as always, for your hard work and dedication to our community, and each other.


  • Emergency Preparedness

    Posted on October 13th, 2014

    Written by

    Ebola Update #1 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 13, 2014

    As news about the Ebola virus in the United States continues to evolve on a daily basis, I want to assure you that Baptist Health South Florida is prepared to safely and effectively handle any potential cases of the virus, and we are taking all necessary precautions to protect our patients, and you.

    All Baptist Health facilities follow the guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in preparing for and managing patients with Ebola or other infectious diseases. Our Emergency Preparedness teams and leaders, including infection control experts from across the organization, have been meeting weekly to ensure that our hospitals, outpatient facilities, and primary care offices fully understand the CDC’s guidelines for patient care, and importantly, for their personal safety and protection. We are in constant contact with local, state, and federal officials. Our effectiveness is based on a uniform, system-wide response that utilizes a standardized process and standardized equipment. There is no room for variation of practice. However, I fully expect that this information and these guidelines will change or be amended as this situation continues to unfold. We will communicate any changes to our practices as it happens, and we will implement those changes as a system.

    The Chief Nursing Officers are in regular communication to ensure our patient care procedures and safety practices are consistently followed throughout our hospitals and outpatient settings. They have checked for readiness in the most likely walk-in locations of the ED’s, Urgent Care Centers, and Primary Care offices, and are continuing to ensure all clinical locations have what they need to perform. Information is being shared on a daily basis, through training, seminars and emergency drills. Personal responsibility is part of the preparation equation, so if you have any questions about training or resources needed to do your job effectively, please contact your supervisor immediately.

    Hurricanes have caused us to have special preparation expertise, but Baptist Health South Florida dedicates major resources to stay ready for all potential events, including this one. Our health system has a unique advantage in these situations with a dedicated, full-time Emergency Preparedness Department. They work year-round, frequently behind the scenes, for just this type of circumstance. These experts are a resource for you. The seven-member department is led by John Braden, M.D., Medical Director (johnbr@bpatisthealth.net); and Jean Arias, R.N., Emergency Preparedness Director (jeanar@baptisthealth.net). In addition, they coordinate the Emergency Response Teams, 26 people with additional training who are deployed in every part of the organization to respond in crisis situations. This Friday is our annual system-wide emergency preparedness drill, and we have oriented this event to help us further test our readiness.

    In real time, we are seeing the results of our readiness, as well as the results of the intense media focus on this issue. Over the weekend, three potential patients presented themselves at three different Baptist Health facilities, West Kendall Baptist Hospital, Brickell Urgent Care, and University Urgent Care. The staff responded in a calm and expert manner, and these patients were managed appropriately, and ruled not a risk for Ebola. We can expect patients who are concerned about Ebola to present to our facilities in increasing numbers.

    We recognize that for us to be able to respond to any crisis, we must be sure that our staff can safely perform our mission to the community. The Board of Baptist Health provides and will continue to provide the resources, training and equipment to be ready for any emergency. The community will always look to us for calm, responsible leadership in stressful healthcare situations and it is important that you are able to express confidence about our readiness. Thank you for your preparation, compassion and dedication that you show all of our patients, and each other, every day.

    Wayne Brackin

  • Hurricane Season 2014

    Posted on June 1st, 2014

    Written by

    Are You Ready?

    As of today, it has been 3,142 days since the last Category 3 hurricane came ashore in the United States. That blows away the record for the longest period between major hurricanes since 1900. Does that make you feel more secure or more worried?

    Hurricane Wilma is the last storm of consequence in the collective South Florida memory, and that was in 2005. Is it a continued quiet period, or are we overdue?

    And it’s been almost 30 years since an NBA team has advanced to the Finals for four straight years, that being of course, your Miami HEAT. (Thanks to team physician and Doctors Hospital Center for Orthopedics & Sports Medicine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Harlan Selesnick for keeping the players healthy). Does that make it sure thing, or has our luck run out? (I know, bad example – it is a sure thing!)

    So, those impressive statistics and how we might apply them in predicting how the rest of this hurricane season will go, mean precisely…nada. As a coastal community, we are always vulnerable, and as a healthcare provider and irreplaceable community resource, we must always prepare and maintain our readiness.

    I remain confident that we have done so. The underpinning of our readiness is the highly motivated people of Baptist Health, who take seriously our not-for-profit faith-based mission of caring for our community. They prove it every day, but never more so than in a crisis.

    We continue to invest in the hurricane hardening of our hospitals and support buildings, ensuring the safety of our patients and staff, and the continued availability of care when it is most needed.

    Our Emergency Response Team, made up of employees from all over our organization, makes itself continuously ready and available at a moment’s notice to respond to hurricanes or other emergencies. The 37-member team represents every hospital and entity at Baptist Health. We train and train for emergencies, to the extent of sending more than 100 staff members on three medical mission trips to Haiti to do good work, but also to hone their skills in functioning in the kind of arduous environment we could see in Florida after a major storm.

    To prepare for Hurricane Season and crisis response, Baptist Health relocated from Doral and upgraded our entire Telehealth Center to higher ground at our corporate headquarters. The Telehealth Center houses our electronic ICU (eICU), which remotely monitors patients in our hospitals, and our Transfer Center, which coordinates patient moves to, within and from our facilities. This improves accessibility to our Incident Command operations, which are run out of our corporate office during emergencies.

    We have significantly strengthened our medical staff infrastructure with the growth of the Baptist Health Medical Group and the alignment of our community physicians with the Baptist Health Quality Network. We have added additional resources in critical specialties, such as general surgery and orthopedics, likely to be tested during a crisis. We have three brand new Baptist Health Primary Care locations opening in strategic locations throughout our community. These very timely openings in the next few weeks will add experienced and enthusiastic new family- and internal-medicine physicians as critical community assets that will aid in preparation, quick recovery, and emergency department decompression.

    Enormous thanks to the indefatigable Dr. Jack Ziffer for bringing these changes to life, his visionary physician leadership, and for recruiting Dr. Bernie Fernandez to this team. These measures are sure to help us mobilize in the wake of a crisis.

    To help our own employees prepare for the season, we have held four Hurricane Fairs, providing them with supplies and information about how they should prepare beginning in June. The peace of mind that their homes and families are as ready as can be is one more critical part of being able to perform in hurricane conditions.

    Baptist Health is fortunate to have in place a Department of Emergency Preparedness, further evidence of our commitment to keeping our facilities operational in an emergency situation like a hurricane. They continue to drive our readiness and are nationally recognized for their innovative work on our behalf.

    In fact, this department has improved our ability for Baptist Health to communicate, making it stronger than ever. We continue to have the Everbridge system in place, which allows us to communicate with all of our employees simultaneously via phone, e-mail and text messaging. We created a drill for our CEOs that synchronized our communication options in case of sequential loss of landlines, cell phones, text, e-mail and walkie talkies, so we can maintain contact for crisp and timely decision making. We will be piloting satellite phone communications this year as well.

    Baptist Health’s PineApp continues to evolve as a communication tool and will be used for this purpose this year. Our Twitter account @BaptistHealthSF will be part of the communication stream. I highly recommend downloading Hurricane Tracker App, and to follow them on Twitter @HurrTrackerApp. Of course, this blog, Weathering the Storms, is now activated for the 2014 season.

    Finally, one of our quiet strengths is people with real-time experience forged in crisis. That is a rare commodity. The longevity and stability of our staff and leadership means that none of this is new to us. All of our entities’ CEOs have experience in hurricane preparedness and response and will be in their respective Incident Command Centers leading their teams of employees and staying tightly coordinated with each other as a system. You cannot buy the experience these leaders bring.

    Are you ready? (Yes, I’m ready)
    I’ve got to know, yeah (Yes, I’m ready)
    You sound real good (Yes, I’m ready)
    Are you ready? (Yes, I’m ready)
    Gonna be sunshine again (Yes, I’m ready)
    And the flowers growing (Yes, I’m ready)
    Children playing (Yes, I’m ready)
    Gonna be alright.

    Are You Ready, Pacific Gas and Electric

  • Hurricane Season 2013

    Posted on June 28th, 2013

    Written by

    Good Neighbors are Easy to Follow

    Most of the Baptist Health hospitals are right in the middle of neighborhoods.  In some cases, the neighbors were not there when the hospital was built.  But over the years, houses were built and people moved in as close as across the street. 

    South Miami Hospital is bordered on one side by the Manor Lane neighborhood.  Doctors Hospital is in the heart of Coral Gables with three sides bordered by residences and one side bordered by the University of Miami. 

    In the case of Homestead Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital, both were brand new and built on green fields with very few or no adjacent neighbors.  Very quickly, though, we have seen that these local hospitals have served – beyond the primary mission of care – as economic engines of growth and opportunity for these communities. 

    In the Homestead community, Homestead Hospital triggered a transformative boom in East Homestead that is still underway five years later.  Aerial photos show housing, shopping and major infrastructure improvements for miles around the hospital site. 

    The same thing is happening at West Kendall Baptist Hospital, at an even more accelerated pace.  As West Kendall establishes it own identity as part of greater Miami, the hospital truly contributes to the sense of place. 

    In the older and more established communities around Baptist, South Miami and Doctors Hospitals, the hospitals are fully part of the fabric of day-to-day life.  There are also some interesting benefits to being close by.  Of course, instant access in an emergency is a comforting thought for many in surrounding neighborhoods.  But an added benefit for these residents is following the hospitals’ lead in storm preparations.

    I have been told by neighbors many, many times over the years that they don’t pay much attention to the news stations when a storm is approaching, as they find it stressful.  What they do pay attention to are the activities of the hospital, most particularly something as commonplace as the shutters on the buildings.  For many people, that is when they know it is time to get ready for a storm. 

    An older patient, who happened to live a few blocks away from one of our hospitals told me that we had saved him thousands of dollars over the last 20 years.  This was an interesting comment that you don’t often hear in my job!  When I asked him how so, he said that he had to hire someone to put up his aluminum shutters once he got past a certain age.  By waiting until the hospital starting closing its shutters (which we have done judiciously over the years), he had avoided many, many unnecessary costs.  Unlike some folks, he could not stand to put up the shutters and leave them up, too depressing.  But taking them up and down was too expensive, so we became his trigger. 

    Now that there are fewer shutters, as more and more of the glass is hurricane hardened, you have to look a little closer to see us getting ready, but you can still see it happening. 

    Another hidden benefit:  As a vital community service, the hospital and the adjacent community, are first to get back on the power grid after a storm.  If you have lived through days and weeks of no power, as many of us long time residents have, this benefit is, as they say, priceless.

    Keep an eye out as a storm threatens and remember to turn to Weathering the Storms, as well, for clues to when you should get your house and family ready to weather the storm. 

    “Neighbor you are so good, I love the way you walk.
    Neighbor you are so cool, I love the way you talk.
    Sing you a song from morning to night
    Waiting for the summer sun”

     HighlifeSonny Okusson

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