Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Emergency Management in Healthcare

I am thoroughly enjoying teaching my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class this semester at the Isenberg School of Management. The students are always willing to discuss and share their experiences and the time goes by much too quickly.

A very important feature of this class is the guest speakers that I bring in who are expert practitioners.

Mr. Thomas Lynch spoke on Emergency Management in Healthcare to my recently. (Since February 9 was a snow day at UMass and the university was closed, we are grateful that he was able to reschedule his talk for February 16.) He spent about two decades working in security and emergency management at Baystate Health in Springfield, Massachusetts, and, before that,  about 10 years working in security at Mount Sinai in Manhattan. He was a terrific Professor for a Day! He even brought multiple handouts for the student.

Baystate Health is a major trauma center in Massachusetts and Mr. Lynch shared with the students the importance of drilling, drilling, and drilling. When there was smoke next to an operating room, where a surgery was taking place, the medical team was prepared and had practiced and moved the patient (who was opened up) to another surgical unit where the surgery was successfully completed.

He provided the class with information on a hazard and vulnerability assessment tool for events that a hospital such as Baystate must be concerned about from hurricanes to snowfalls and now even tornadoes, since we had one in June 2011, as well as floods and droughts, along with the estimated probabilities and risk measurement.
There have been plans made that are derived from the hazards and vulnerability assessment for such incidents as: mass casualty, fire, weather events, hazmat (internal and external), bioterror, infant abduction (which worried him the most), evacuation, active shooter, a civil disturbance, and an IT outage.

He also shared with us that, after Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in US history,  each hospital must prepare an emergency sustainability plan for 96 hours. This means that a hospital should be reliable/functional for 96 hours post a disaster without outside support. Hence, Baystate has a five day supply of food on hand. There is also a warehouse filled with pandemic supplies of 30 days. Since communications are essential to emergency preparedness and disaster relief, there is a backup phone system, cellphones for redistribution, and even 100 radios that can be put on a single frequency and a mobile satellite phone. The facility has 30,000 gallons on campus of fuel capacity which should be sufficient to sustain operations for 96 hours.

Mr. Lynch emphasized that it is important in an emergency to take care of yourself first and that is what the medical professionals are also trained to do. They also must take care of their families since otherwise they would be distracted about their welfare to do work. Only then does one worry about property.

It was very impressive to hear how the regional hospitals meet regularly to exchange best practices and also work with firemen and police departments. Relationships are critical and are built over time and they must be in place when an emergency or disaster strikes.

Mr. Lynch shared with us his varied experiences as to the responses various scenarios from barricades (which required rerouting of staff and ambulances) to shootings to a major explosion with 8 burn victims that were not readily identifiable. He also stated that when the Ebola crisis in western Africa peaked a few years ago that Baystate Health was one of a handful of centers in Massachusetts selected to be a treatment unit and it took them 18 months to prepare for this.
Mr. Lynch's presentation can be downloaded here.
Bay State Health (and we) are very lucky to have such a consummate emergency and security professional in our midst as Mr. Thomas Lynch and we thank him for all that he has done for our major hospital and its community!