Along with our regional emergency preparedness partners, the team at Acuity Hospital began preparations for the impact of Hurricane Harvey when the first watch was issued on August 23rd. While we activated the Code Gray Stand-by August 25, 2017, we met as a leadership team daily to ensure we had the required supplies, medications, food and water we might need for a shelter in place. San Antonio was initially predicted to have strong winds and the stagnate rains that ultimately ended up in Houston. Jonathan Deleon, our Director of Plant Operations worked to have a dead tree removed as it was a risk to near-by electrical wires. Staff were communicated with using our mass notification system and encouraged to make their own plans.
Two staff members stayed at the hospital because their homes were in flood-prone areas. We were blessed to have missed the devastating rains, but sustain an electrical failure to which the generator functioned as expected.
The real work came on August 26th when the two hospitals in Victoria, Texas decided to evacuate. Working with our local Regional Advisory Councils, DeTar and Citizens Hospitals evacuated due to the inability to get A/C and water safely functioning.
Melissa Low, Chief Executive Officer responded to the Regional Medical Operations Center for South Texas (see pictures) to facilitate the movement of patients from Victoria to San Antonio. Four of those patients were transferred to Acuity Hospital, many to other facilities in San Antonio. We were able to return those patients home once the utilities in Victoria were restored.
Lessons learned? 1. It is helpful to have a television in the command center for news updates 2. Communication is always key. We brushed off the dust to our mass notification system and have been using it regularly to apprise staff and leaders of important hospital information.