• Hurricane Season 2012

    Posted on August 24th, 2012

    Written by Wayne Brackin

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    Baptist Health South Florida senior leadership and our Emergency Preparedness Team have been monitoring Tropical Storm Isaac over the last 48 hours. With the storm still a couple of days away, keep checking back here for more updates.  

    At this time, all of Baptist Health’s operations and schedules are normal.

    We will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates as needed.

    Ironically, as we prepare for Isaac, many of us are stopping for a moment to remember Hurricane Andrew. As we think of the 20 years that have passed, I’d like to share an interview I participated in, with my personal reflections from August 24, 1992:

    On the 20th Anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, with Isaac in view, the below is an interview I participated in, after being asked to share my memories from August 24, 1992.

    Hurricane Andrew: memories still fresh for D. Wayne Brackin, former CEO of Homestead Hospital

    On the eve of Aug. 24, hospital CEO D. Wayne Brackin and his staff at Homestead Hospital would normally have expected 75 patients to be present at the 100-bed facility.

    But as Hurricane Andrew approached the Florida coast, the hospital’s popularity surged.

    “By the time we locked down the doors, we had 400 patients in the hospital,” Brackin said, remembering the devastating storm. 

    “Pregnant women, anyone with a respirator…the emergency department got flooded with people with real or imagined illnesses.  We had patients in offices, in the hallways, in the cafeteria, in the lobby.” 

    Then the roof started to peel back and windows in patient rooms started to blow out and patients were moved out of the rooms and into hallways.  The stand-by generators worked on and off when the power failed.  Yet the hospital and patients survived without major injury.

    “It would be far different today,” said Brackin who still oversees Homestead Hospital in his current role as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Baptist Health South Florida.

    Since Andrew, Baptist has built a new Homestead Hospital – with reinforced roof, hurricane-proof windows, a higher elevation and more stand-by generators.

    Brackin said the new Homestead Hospital, and all other Baptist Health hospitals, would batten down during a present-day storm and could “ride it out” for two or three weeks without outside help.  All the hospitals – Baptist, South Miami, Doctors, West Kendall Baptist and Mariner’s Hospital in the Keys, have hardened structures, plentiful supplies and an operational plan to deal with a storm.

    “During Andrew, our reciprocal hospital was the Air Force Base hospital.  We now know the reciprocal hospitals have to be two to three hours away, and they are.  Staff at the more than two dozen Baptist Health outpatient centers would be reassigned during a storm, backing-up the two teams of hospital employees who would be on duty during and immediately after a storm.”

    Baptist Health made a commitment to the Homestead community even though Andrew brought economic devastation from which Homestead has still to recover fully.   

    The new hospital has lost money every year since it opened in 2007, but Brackin said the hospital was desperately needed in the community. 

    “There was a huge economic underpinning of the Air Force base that was under-appreciated at the time,” he said.  “Within a matter of days of pulling out they took with them a huge percentage of the middle class.  The economy has never really come back although there have been many housing projects.

    “The fundamental question of where you work has never been answered,” Brackin said.

    Brackin’s experience during and after Hurricane Andrew led him to start a blog. 

    “It was a way to share the many, many good life lessons that we learned over the years.  And it is a way to help maintain readiness with employees, to keep them updated, and then as storms approach it’s one more way of communicating,” Brackin said.

    “It does keep alive the institutional memory of experiences that are helpful today.”

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    This entry was posted on Friday, August 24th, 2012 at 9:01 am and is filed under Hurricane Season 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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