Evacuation of a Health Care Facility: When Disaster Strikes

Recently, an interesting newsletter that is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response—Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (ASPR-TRACIE) arrived in my inbox that I want to share with you. During the last few months of 2017, the United States experienced multiple natural disasters from hurricanes, wildfires, and mud slides that had significant impact on human lives and infrastructure. For those of you who are interested in emergency preparedness and the firsthand experience of those involved, the 2018 Volume 1, Issue 6 of the Exchange newsletter is a must read. If you have not considered how hospitals and dialysis were impacted by the hurricanes and fires, read about the rapid-fire decisions that were made, the personal impact to the health care providers involved, what they learned, the resources they shared, and things that other health care organizations should consider.

The contents of Issue 6 at a glance:

The Last Stand: Evacuating a Hospital in the Middle of a Wildfire
ASPR-TRACIE interviewed Kaiser staff members to learn more about their personal experiences with the wildfire and professional experiences evacuating a hospital in the midst of one.

Evacuating, Treating, and Tracking People on Dialysis: Lessons Learned from the 2017 Hurricane Season
In this article, federal employees involved in patient movement share lessons learned from evacuating dialysis patients.

How the Private Sector Helps Dialysis Patients and Clinics Prepare for and Respond to Disasters
Bill Numbers from Fresenius Medical Care discusses working with the federal government, clinics, and patients before, during, and after recent disasters.

When Hospitals become Islands: One Facility’s Evacuation Story
Todd Senters from Beaumont Baptist Hospital shares how staff in his facility worked tirelessly to care for existing patients (and those who were dropped off by helicopter) just prior to having to evacuate due a breach in the city’s water pumps.

Evacuating a Region: How a Health Care Coalition Helped Evacuate 1,504 Patients from 45 Facilities after Hurricane Harvey
Lori Upton discusses how a regional health care coalition helped health care facilities evacuate after nearly five feet of rain flooded the area.

The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response—Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange is sponsored by Department of Health and Human Services.

TRACIE was created to meet the information and technical assistance needs of regional ASPR staff, health care coalitions, health care entities, health care providers, emergency managers, public health practitioners, and others working in disaster medicine, health care system preparedness, and public health emergency preparedness. The TRACIE Exchange newsletter provides insightful articles from experts and those in the field on the most pressing health care system and emergency preparedness issues, promising practices, and lessons learned.

  • Register now to subscribe to the ASPR-TRACIE Listserv. (Then, the next issue of the Exchange will arrive in your inbox.)
  • Click here to access past ASPR-TRACIE webinars and videos.

For personal preparedness information (to plan for you and your family), below are a few websites to check out:

I hope you find the articles on the evacuations of interest. Be sure to check out the information on the ASPR-TRACIE website, local and state resources, as well as your organization’s emergency preparedness information and most importantly: Have a plan for you and your family!

Pat Hlavka

Pat Hlavka is a Safety Coordinator in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an M.S. degree in Safety from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Pat worked as a safety professional in the industrial setting (IBM and Benchmark Electronics) for over 15 years. Since joining the Mayo Clinic in 2008, her responsibilities have focused on laboratory safety including the safety audit program, developing and maintaining documentation, training, communications, awareness, incident investigation, laboratory safety committees, and emergency management.