Last week, we wrote a blog post about the wildfires that were ravaging Northern California. One of the biggest challenges medical personnel had to address was how to evacuate patients from one hospital to the next. The patients were suffering from different kinds of illnesses, some more serious than others. Those will less serious illnesses were easier to evacuate, but what about those suffering from serious medical conditions?
The Santa Rosa hospitals had to act quick, transferring medically needy patients through ambulances. Everyone else was able to be evacuated using private buses. During the transfer, 90 patients had to be treated due to the damage caused by the fire, but thankfully all 130 patients survived. If the patients weren’t evacuated this fast, the situation could have ended a lot worse.
Unfortunately, not are hospitals are equipped for situations like this. An article from SavannahaNow details how tragedy struck in Chatham County due to a lack of an evacuation plan for patients suffering from serious conditions during Hurricane Irma. Emails gathered by the publication showed that three local hospitals originally agreed to take in 48 medically needy evacuees, but then tried to backpedal on this promise.
Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) Director Dennis Jones found this unacceptable and managed to get one of the three hospitals, Memorial University Medical Center, to comply with its original commitments. However, two hospitals in Candler had no room for evacuees and Jones was not happy. Here’s a direct quote from the SavannahNow article:
“Gentlemen, I find it extremely unfortunate that both medical institutions in our county have decided not to support a plan they have been committed to for years” he wrote in an email to risk managers at Memorial and St. Joseph’s/Candler. “Even moreso, to make this decision just 24-hours prior to plan implementation.”
It’s easy to point fingers at the hospitals in this situation, however, these hospitals have very difficult decisions to make because they have their own patients to worry about. These hospitals know how many people they can handle, so they did the best they could to take care of people during the hurricane.
However, to prevent situations like this from happening, CEMA and state officials need to have stronger communication with the Costal Health District. As we’ve seen from the wildfires from North Carolina, evacuating people with serious illnesses in a timely manner is extremely important. Time is of the essence with these patients, so we need to make sure that we have a plan before a disaster strikes. We recommend reading more about this topic in SavannahNow’s article by clicking here, as they’ve laid out some great talking points to read about.
At J&D Ultracare, we understand the importance of helping patients with specials needs. We’ve been providing skilled nursing services to those that are medically fragile since 1985. After hearing these stories, we also want to help out those that are suffering from these natural disasters.
That’s why we want to draw attention to two fantastic donation funds. The first is the Hurricane Irma Relief Fund on GlobalGiving, which has already raised over 2 million dollars! This provides direct relief to survivors by providing essentials such as food, water, and medicine. The second is Redwood Credit Union’s Wildfire Relief Fund, which aids those from Northern California. They’ve raised over six million dollars so far as well! Please consider making a donation to either of these to make a difference in the world.