Many of us were aware of the transfer of patients from Trinity Hospital to the new Grandview Medical Center last weekend.
Nearly 100 patients were moved one-by-one by ambulance from Trinity Hospital along a 10 mile route to the new hospital.
But, who knew that two United Way staffers were in the secured, underground Emergency Operations Center at Birmingham City Hall monitoring the event real time along with city officials, Emergency Management Agency (EMA) personnel and law enforcement officials?
Courtney Newton (Community Initiatives) and Shayne Rittman (2-1-1 Call Center) represented United Way in observing the hospital move along with other disaster response partners as a controlled exercise in managing a potential disaster-related hospital evacuation. The Trinity/Grandview hospital move provided the perfect opportunity to observe the process and prepare for a true hospital evacuation, such as has those that have happened due to devastating tornados and hurricanes.
Courtney: Why was United Way part of the move?
United Way participates with the Alabama and Jefferson County VOADs (Volunteer Organizations Aiding in Disaster), a network of community partners, faith based and non-governmental agencies that can serve specific functions in times of disaster. The Trinity Hospital move allows our VOAD group to observe the “planned” hospital move as a model on how to handle a potential “disaster-related” hospital evacuation. Our role during any disaster is providing information and referral services through 2-1-1 and coordination of the long term recovery process. Our particular focus for this mock event was developing a plan to provide resources for food/water and support for first responders. If this had been an actual event, we would also consider how to best utilize 2-1-1, coordinate volunteers and work with the Central Alabama Long Term Recovery Committee.
Shayne – Where were you and what was it like being there?
Starting at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, we were in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at City Hall. It was really interesting because they had several large screens showing the map of the evacuation route, a live screen of the patient count and other status reports. We were able to hear and see real time what was happening and strategize on how things would really happen in a disaster. It was a great way to practice how 2-1-1 could best be used. It was also a good opportunity to work side-by-side with our VOAD partners and discuss the integration of 2-1-1 into disaster response planning.
Shayne – What was your impression on how it went?
It went exceptionally smooth due to thorough planning. If it had been a real disaster of course there would be no planning, but the “bones” of how to do this kind of evacuation remain the same. In a true hospital evacuation disaster, for instance, with our VOAD network structure, 2-1-1 could tell the relative of an evacuated patient which hospital his or her relative had been evacuated to.
Courtney – How did participating in this event help United Way?
As a result of participating in the mock evacuation exercise, the EMA further recognizes the value United Way offers in terms of providing up-to-date and accurate information and resources through 2-1-1, as well as our role in the long term recovery process. Due to our participation in the exercise, United Way is now designated as a Jefferson EMA Emergency Management Coordinator and will have direct real time, communications with the EMA who collects, stores and disseminates information in times of disaster.
*Grandview Medical Center is now open and all patients from Trinity Medical Center were successfully moved in a massive patient transfer plan involving a year of planning.