Friday, November 12, 2010

Baltimore County hospitals enact disaster plan with state and local agencies

Northwest Hospital and the four other Baltimore County hospitals have signed the Baltimore County Healthcare Facilities Mutual Aid System Memorandum of Understanding (a.k.a., “Healthcare MOU”) with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore County Emergency Management Task Force and the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security. The Healthcare MOU will help county government agencies and hospitals quickly come together in an event of a disaster and provide coordinated health care for disaster victims.

When a large disaster – such as a terrorist attack – strikes, many people need to use a hospital at once. Specifically, the Healthcare MOU dedicates space outside the Baltimore County hospitals where patients with minor injuries can be treated. These spaces are called “surge sites,” which would be located at campuses of the Community College of Baltimore County, Greater Baltimore Medical Center and/or Stella Maris.

“While we hope that Baltimore County never experiences a disaster large enough to require the use of one of these surge sites, it is comforting to know that Baltimore County’s Health Department, Fire and EMS, hospitals and medical institutions and participating colleges and universities are working together as a team to share resources when lives are on the line,” says Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith, Jr.

Planning for emergencies is something that Northwest Hospital does extensively. The hospital routinely holds disaster drills so that its staff can practice their emergency roles. These exercises help the Northwest refine its emergency plans and correct any weaknesses that are exposed during the drill.

“Being prepared is the first step in ensuring success should we need to handle a real-life emergency or disaster,” says Nelson Figueroa, RN, BSN, MBA, Northwest’s director of emergency services and the emergency management coordinator. “We are happy to be part of the Healthcare MOU because it means that in a large-scale disaster, the surge sites will allow us to treat vast numbers of survivors in the most effective and caring way possible.”

Figueroa is pictured above with Smith and Northwest Hospital Vice President of Patient Care Services Sue Jalbert.

To learn more about Northwest Hospital, call 410-601-WELL (9355).

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