October 18, 2012

A violent wind storm strikes West Virginia and knocks out power to thousands of homes and businesses. A natural gas leak happens outside of CAMC General Hospital. An accident sends several patients to CAMC’s hospitals.

These scenarios are real events that have actually happened, and CAMC was prepared.

CAMC’s emergency response plan has been developed and revised over time to guide employees’ response to events that challenge hospital operations. These events could be a large number of patients being transported to CAMC’s hospitals, natural or other disasters that affect CAMC or its community, or even the loss of utility service.

“No matter what happens, our community is counting on us,” said Lillian Morris, corporate director for safety. “CAMC strives to be as prepared as possible for as many different types of disasters as possible.”

CAMC takes several steps in disaster preparation, including: educating staff to take actions to prevent occurrences, meeting to review CAMC’s response to an event and plans for future disasters and conducting drills.

The material handling department routinely inventories supplies and works to maintain at least a 96-hour supply of essential hospital supplies, utilities and equipment. Hospital supplies include items such as gloves, masks and linens. Utilities include water, medical gases and fuel for generators.

The pharmacy department ensures adequate supplies of medications, and nutrition services maintains necessary supplies of food and water for patients.

As the tertiary care center for southern West Virginia, CAMC must prepare to accept critically ill patients transferred from other facilities across several counties. These transfers sometimes come at the same time local patients are flooding the emergency department for care.

Finally, to test and evaluate staff preparedness, CAMC conducts drills internally and regularly participates with community agencies. CAMC routinely collaborates with The Kanawha Putnam Emergency Planning Committee (KPEPC), Kanawha Charleston Health Department, West Virginia Hospital Association Disaster Preparedness Task Force and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health Center for Threat Preparedness.

These drills challenge employees to know the disaster plan and be prepared for the unexpected.

Be prepared
CAMC encourages its employees and the community to have personal emergency plans. The following websites have information to help families create such a plan:

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