Ready for a Disaster? If Not, It Will Cost You.

Jennifer Thew, RN, July 18, 2017

Orlando Health's corporate manager of emergency preparedness talks about his experience with the Pulse nightclub shooting and how healthcare leaders can better prepare their organizations to handle disasters.

Eric Alberts
Eric Alberts

Last week it rained hard here in northern Illinois. Many homes and towns flooded, and patients at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital had to be transferred to nearby facilities due to a power outage and standing water inside the building.

As of Friday, July 14, (two days after the rain began) the hospital was still closed.

While this incident is nowhere near the size and scale of the flooding that took place after Hurricane Katrina, Mother Nature makes a point—emergencies and disasters know no bounds.

"This stuff's happening all over the place in different venues and at different times," says Eric Alberts, corporate manager, emergency preparedness at Orlando Health.

"A fertilizer plant explosion or a train derailment with chemicals or a vehicle that crashes into a building or a shooting. These things are happening everywhere, and you can't predict it."

But hospitals and health systems can, and should, prepare for it, he says. And administrative leaders should lead the charge.

Alberts says this from experience.

Just over a year ago, a few blocks from Orlando Health Medical Center, 49 people were killed and more than 50 were injured during a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub. Recently, he spoke with HealthLeaders to share insights he gained from the incident.

Know Your Neighbors

"When we did our planning efforts, we often had been thinking that something bad was going to happen at the big venues—like a big stadium with a bowl game, at a concert, at a fair, at a parade," Alberts says.

Jennifer Thew, RN

Jennifer Thew, RN is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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