The Barren River region has acquired new means of responding to disasters affecting the local and state health care system.
A $56,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has helped set up Alternative Care Sites that can be dispatched to areas across the state in times of disaster and during hospital evacuations. The grant was received by Area 4 Healthcare Emergency Area Response Team, a group of health care and community organizations that work together to plan and coordinate health disaster preparedness and response.
“With the latest grant cycle, one of the things that had been noticed in health care was the lack of means to directly provide care during a disaster,” said Jim Williams, The Medical Center at Bowling Green’s Emergency Medical Services field operations manager. “This is more for disaster-type situations.”
The need for such sites has been seen in disasters such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina and regionally with ice storms and tornadoes, Williams said. “It has been recognized as an issue for several years. It’s now it’s becoming a more focused priority,” he said.
The mobile trailers and equipment – which will be used among all hospitals and long-term care facilities in the region or state in times of need – are maintained by The Medical Centers at Bowling Green and Scottsville, T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow and Logan Memorial Hospital in Russellville.
“They are stationed in four counties in the region, but all the mobiles can come together in the same county. They can be hooked up to trucks and can go to wherever the problem is,” Williams said.
Rita Tabor, clinical manager at the emergency room at The Medical Center at Scottsville, agreed.
“Three of the trailers are placed in the largest counties, but the one in Allen County was placed there because of its central location,” she said, adding that the site there borders Warren, Simpson, Barren and Monroe counties.
The trailers could be used to help more people, Tabor said.
“If our building was damaged in some way and we had to move someone else or had a disaster or epidemic, we could set up the alternative site trailer at an alternate location and see patients there,” she said. “We’re setting up with all the other regions so that if they have something we need, we can call them and if we have something they need, they can call us. We live in a great state.”
The Alternate Care Site can also be used to decompress hospitals if it became necessary, Williams said.
“We could take patients who are already in the hospital and are in stable condition but still need medical care (to have alternative sites so we could) have beds for patients who need more care,” he said.
The trailers would use regular hospital staff, although off-duty staff might have to be called in at times, Tabor said. The supplies include items that staff members use regularly.
“You’d have everything you’d need to start your own little hospital at another site,” she said.
Williams said the equipment will be a big help to the region and state.
“It’s expandable with all the resources we have. We can respond to a lot of different types of issues,” he said. “It gives us a lot more options to help take care of people. We realize the importance of it.”