• Hurricane Season 2015

    Posted on June 18th, 2015

    Written by

    The Hurricane Season is upon us. Again. The six-month countdown to Dec. 1 has begun. Again.

    Tropical Storm Bill made landfall this week in Texas, a small but wet storm, and early in the season for a named storm. So, we are underway. Like last year, experts are predicting a mild and quiet season for tropical storms in the Atlantic, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. You might be tempted to yawn. But before you do, remember this: Hurricane Andrew — that Category 5 monster that demolished entire swaths of South Florida in 1992 — blasted ashore during another “quiet” hurricane season, causing $26 billion in damage (or $44 billion in 2015 dollars).

    So, please, forget the statistics. Ignore the predictions. Each and every year, our mission is the same: to be prepared for the worst — as individuals, as employees, as good citizens — while hoping for the best.

    Because we are a large and vital healthcare provider, we at Baptist Health have an added duty and responsibility to be fully prepared for hurricanes as well as other natural and manmade disasters. You, too, need to prepare a personal and family plan so you know what to do when the lights go out… when the faucet drips dirty water… when your roof caves in or rips off… when Biscayne Bay rises toward your front door.

    We are all in this together and we can help each other. Hurricane Preparedness Fairs are underway across Baptist Health. At the fairs, you can learn how to take precautions and prepare lists of needed supplies, contact numbers and community resources. Do you know your role at work in the event of a storm? Review the plan with your supervisor.

    Our 37-member Emergency Response Team includes representatives from every hospital and entity and is poised to react at any moment, 24/7. If a storm (or any other emergency) threatens South Florida or Baptist Health, we will activate our Everbridge Communication System for timely communication with employees. In addition, rest assured that our highly regarded Emergency Preparedness Department trains year-round.

    In the past year, as we dealt with potential Ebola patients coming to our Emergency Centers, we also held a full-scale disaster drill that simultaneously envisioned a hurricane, a violent hospital guest and several patients with Ebola symptoms. Our drill was lauded by community partners who attended, including representatives from Miami-Dade Police, the Health Department and Medical Examiner.

    In the end, the team that spearheaded our preparation efforts for the Ebola crisis will receive a Kaizen Award, which rewards employees for initiatives that bring changes for the better to the organization. Several teams deserve a call-out for their performance during the crisis: the Emergency Preparedness & Security Department, the Baptist Health South Florida Emergency Response Team, our team of Infection Control practitioners, the Communications group and Supply Chain. In addition, employees across all entities collaborated to safely handle potential patients with Ebola; to protect both patients and caregivers; and to communicate facts to reassure employees and the community that Baptist Health was ready, willing and able to respond to the Ebola scare. We also broadened our future readiness by including Urgent Care Centers, Primary Care Centers and Labor & Delivery areas in the plan of care for potential Ebola patients.

    We always keep in mind our preparedness plan as Baptist Health expands. The Miami Cancer Institute and the new Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute —both under construction on the Baptist Hospital campus — will be hurricane-hardened structures designed to withstand even the most powerful storms. These new facilities will house innovative cardiovascular and cancer services that will serve not just our local communities but attract patients from all over the world. We can all take pride in these advances at Baptist Health and in the knowledge that we are taking care to build the safest, strongest buildings possible.

    In the end, as usual, our success in preparing for and facing a disaster depends on you, the people who make up the Baptist Health family. I have the utmost faith in our processes and systems and, more importantly, in our people who carry them out. You are caring. You are experienced. You remain calm — and go above and beyond the call of duty, time and again, for our patients and for each other. No matter if the crisis is a hurricane, a public health scare or other disaster, the Baptist Health community has the education, training, experience and compassion to weather any storm.

    Against the wind,
    A little something against the wind,
    I found myself seeking shelter against the wind.

    - Bob Seger

    Wayne Brackin

  • Emergency Preparedness

    Posted on October 31st, 2014

    Written by

    Ebola Update #4 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 31, 2014

    Today, we are moving off of the Level 3 activation as it relates to the Ebola situation, and we are returning to normal operations across the organization. Moving forward, we are going to focus on a few key actions:

    • We are going to consolidate the groups that have been working on Ebola readiness and form one smaller task force to continue our planning and preparation.

    • We will utilize our system-wide Emergency Response Team to advance our training, readiness and response to any infectious disease outbreak.

    • We will be developing a Code to be used specifically for an infectious disease emergency situation. This will help streamline our response to patients and be especially helpful to non-clinical employees who may not feel comfortable in the situation.

    • We continue to refine the amount and type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Based on staff feedback and evolving CDC guidelines, we are looking at obtaining the most effective, comfortable and easy-to-use PPE. And, we will continue our rigorous training programs at all entities to ensure employees know how to properly and safely use PPE.

    • We are developing a plan to utilize our Telehealth Center, which you may know more commonly as our eICUs. We have the opportunity to tap the expertise of our eICU physicians and nurses to remotely monitor patients with Ebola or who may be suspected of having Ebola or another highly infectious disease. This approach follows the CDC guidelines for minimizing contact with an affected patient.

    Is the current situation over? No, it’s not. However, the extensive training and education that we have done, and will continue to do, across our entire system have made all of us better prepared to care for potential patients with Ebola – with safety as a top priority.

    In a healthcare crisis, we play a vital role in reassuring the community that Baptist Health is well-prepared, well-informed and well-equipped for a safe and effective response. Thank you for your part in sharing that important message with our patients, guests, neighbors and your coworkers. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more and continue our preparation.


  • Emergency Preparedness

    Posted on October 24th, 2014

    Written by

    Ebola Update #3 to Baptist Health Staff – Oct. 24, 2014

    In the News

    •  The NIH reports that the nurse who contracted the Ebola virus after treating a patient in Dallas is now free from the virus.
    •  The other Dallas nurse, who is being treated for Ebola at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, is regaining her strength and continues to improve.
    •  Reports also indicate that A Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to New York from West Africa has become the first Ebola case in New York City.

    Level 3 Activation Status
    Overall, the situation here for us at Baptist Health South Florida remains the same. We continue at our Level 3 activation status, our lowest level. Three times each week we are conducting calls with our CEOs, CNOs and physician leaders, along with a weekly Ebola Task Force meeting, to coordinate our efforts, strengthen our processes and continue to improve our overall communication and preparedness in accordance with the CDC.

    Precautions and Training
    A safe working environment is essential for us to care for all patients, no matter what the condition. We continue to have all of the necessary personal protective gear available and on-site. We are adding to our stock on hand every day, and if better equipment is recommended, we will acquire it. If we do have an actual Ebola patient show up at any of our facilities, we can immediately redeploy needed supplies from our sister facilities on a moments notice.
    Training on the four levels of personal protective equipment (PPE) required for the safe care of an Ebola patient is being conducted throughout Baptist Health. In this last week alone, more than 600 physicians, nurses and clinical staff have gone through the Ebola readiness training. This is an enormous milestone, and we applaud your efforts. We were fortunate to have had Dr. Aileen Marty, a national expert on Ebola from the FIU College of Medicine, address our physicians and nurses in two seminars this week. She shared her experiences treating patients in Africa, including techniques and protocols.

    Thank you, as always, for your hard work and dedication to our community, and each other. We will keep you informed as we all learn more about this evolving situation.


  • Emergency Preparedness

    Posted on October 16th, 2014

    Written by

    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.


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