Hurricane Sandy

The storm season continues to the surprise of many! The majority of people, especially north of the tropics think it’s over. It is a natural tendency, summer’s over, school is in, and the weather is cooling off everywhere (although not so much here in Miami).

The storm season continues to the surprise of many!  The majority of people, especially north of the tropics, think it’s over.  It is a natural tendency, summer’s over, school is in,  and the weather is cooling off everywhere (although not so much here in Miami). 

Cold and hurricanes don’t mix, neither in our minds nor in science. Yet, here we are with Tropical Storm Sandy turning into Hurricane Sandy barreling through Jamaica and now Cuba. As of this morning, there is concern about the impact on the East Coast of the U.S.  The Bahamas will get the brunt of it, and in South Florida it is likely that we are mostly in for two days of rainy, windy weather. We had a preview of that last night with many inches of rain across the area.

For Baptist Health South Florida, we expect to function normally for the duration, asking the staff to use a little extra caution in traveling to and from work. Give yourself a little extra time, and as always make sure that your relief has arrived before you depart your shift. If you have optional social occasions tonight or in the morning, you may want to give it some consideration and if you are traveling by air, expect some delays.

Baby, it ain’t over til it’s over” – Lenny Kravitz

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Baptist Health and the Blustery Day

We have settled in for the duration of Tropical Storm Isaac. All of our hospitals are open as always. Our urgent care centers are closed today, and patients are accepted at any of our six Emergency Departments.

We have settled in for the duration of Tropical Storm Isaac.  All of our hospitals are open as always.  Our urgent care centers are closed today, and patients are accepted at any of our six Emergency Departments. At this time, the PineApp shows under 30-minute wait times at the ED’s. For the first time, we sent a push notification about the urgent care center operations to our PineApp subscribers — a very useful new communication tool.

Staff got in without incident this morning, with only one complaint about how we could expect “bad hair days.”  At this point, streets are clear and flooding only where it normally floods.  Overnight , there were some strong bands passing through that got everyone’s attention.  We can expect that for the next 18 hours, with periods of calm interrupted by intense rain and wind.  This morning, within a 15-minute period, my neighborhood went from calm rain to five minutes of sunshine to tree-bending deluge. That’s just how it is going to be.

Hospital schedules are normal, unless otherwise noted. Our principal adjustment for the storm was to cancel elective procedures for Monday morning.  We just don’t want to put patients and families on the road at 6 or 7 a.m. in unpredictable conditions. Elective procedure schedules will resume at 12 noon on Monday.  We will have our Emergency Preparedness staff manning their office starting at 2 p.m. today as a resource to all our facilities, checking that we have appropriate staff and coordinating transportation as necessary through our Transfer Center.

Everyone has been in synch, on point, and focused on caring for the 1,000-plus patients we have in our hospital beds and ED’s. Thank you to everyone for always making our patients the top priority.

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Business as Usual

After carefully evaluating the best available information, we have decided that all Baptist Health South Florida hospitals, outpatient facilities, and support services will operate on a business-as-usual schedule for the duration of the weather that we will likely experience later this weekend.

After carefully evaluating the best available information, we have decided that all Baptist Health South Florida hospitals, outpatient facilities, and support services will operate on a business-as-usual schedule for the duration of the weather that we will likely experience later this weekend.

I’d like to thank our employees in advance for their dedication and expert care for the nearly 1,000 patients who will occupy our hospital beds, emergency departments, and urgent care centers during this storm. You – our patients, families and friends – are in our very capable hands, no matter what the weather.

Tropical Storm Isaac is a good reminder that we do live in the tropics, and tropical weather is part of our life here. This weekend will bring stronger than usual winds and rain, so give yourself extra time and use caution when out and about. It is important to discuss your family plan during storms, which includes things like child care, location of important documents and emergency plans in case of evacuations. Isaac will give many of us a chance to dust off the plans that may have been put aside since the last storm rolled through.

Finally, today is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, a life-changing event for many of us.  For those who were part of the response and recovery, we thank you for your service and sacrifice.  Your efforts have not been forgotten, and our community is stronger today because of you. 

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Monitoring Isaac While Remembering Andrew

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.

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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Rain and Heat

I recognize that it will appear to many of you that I am looking for an excuse to blog today in order to talk about the Miami HEAT. So, just to maintain blog credibility, let me alert you that it is going to rain this weekend in South Florida, quite a lot.

I recognize that it will appear to many of you that I am looking for an excuse to blog today in order to talk about the Miami HEAT.  So, just to maintain blog credibility, let me alert you that it is going to rain this weekend in South Florida, quite a lot.

Now, how about the World Champion Miami HEAT!!!  It is a very exciting 24 hours for our town.  We don’t simply love the HEAT at Baptist Health South Florida (we do), but we also take care of the team as the Official Sports Medicine Provider through our Doctors Hospital Center of Excellence in Orthopedics & Sports Medicine.  The Team Physician is our own Dr. Harlan Selesnick, renowned orthopedic surgeon and member of the Baptist Health Medical Group.  Through this very intense season, he has kept the players healthy and on the floor.  I asked him many times what he did to get Chris Bosh back in action, and how he was keeping Mike Miller playing.  He told me that my questions were inappropriate, and I should know better than to ask him!  He was right of course, but whatever it was, Dr. Selesnick deserves a ring for his efforts and expertise.   

Now just a word more on the weather.  There is a lot of disturbance in the weather systems to the south of Florida this weekend.  There could be very heavy rains over the next 48 hours with up to five inches in some areas, which could result in localized flooding.  It is something to pay attention to, particularly for those of you working this weekend who must be on the road to get back and forth to the hospitals and outpatient centers.  Be safe and give yourself the extra time you may need under those conditions.

 It is raining hard right now.  What a great day in Miami!

These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion – I seek the torch we all must hold.
This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all, upon us all a little rain must fall…It’s just a little rain…

 The Rain Song, Led Zeppelin

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June 2012 Comes Early

Welcome back to Weathering the Storms for 2012! The hurricane season got a jump start with Tropical Storm Alberto suddenly churning up off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend.

Welcome back to Weathering the Storms for 2012!  The hurricane season got a jump start with Tropical Storm Alberto suddenly churning up off the coast of South Carolina over the weekend.  It looks like it will skirt the coast up past North Carolina and head out to sea.  I imagine the surfers at Cape Hatteras and the rest of the Outer Banks are getting ready for some big days.  Alberto is a good reminder that there are no hard and fast rules in the emergency prep business.

A change in leadership occurred at the National Hurricane Center, with Rick Knabb taking over as Director.  Dr. Knabb is most recently known for his work at The Weather Channel.  This is actually a return to both South Florida and the NHC as he grew up in Coral Springs and previously worked at the NHC for eight years.  I have been follower of his on Twitter @TWCDrKnabb, and his tweets were always timely and practical.  Welcome home, Dr. Knabb.

This is the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew.  We will talk more about that as the season progresses closer to August 24th.  This year we have already heard that we are in for a relatively slow season, with ten named storms.  In Andrew’s year, there were only six named storms, but that one, wow.

The Baptist Health family suffered a tremendous loss with the passing of Mr. Wendell Beard.  Mr. Beard provided visionary board leadership to Baptist Health South Florida, as well as Homestead Hospital and West Kendall Baptist Hospital.  Many of us had the privilege of knowing Mr. Beard, and we can attest that he was a tireless supporter of the people who work at Baptist Health.  Some people can never be replaced.  He was one of those.  Please read  his obituary in The Miami Herald.

For Mr. Beard:
“Wish that I was on ole Rocky Top
Down in the Tennessee Hills.
Ain’t no smoggy smoke on Rocky Top,
Ain’t no telephone bills”

– Felice and Beaudloux Bryant

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