August 31, 2009 (Jamaica, NY)ÛÓ –According to a report issued by the White House, 90,000 Americans could die of swine flu in the coming months.
Experts predict that nearly half of all Americans will get the H1N1 virus, and 1.8 million will require hospital care, placing tremendous stress on our health care system.
MediSys Health Network’s four hospitals serving communities in Queens and Brooklyn have established a Pandemic Influenza Task Force to plan and prepare for a resurgence of H1N1 this fall and winter. In addition, the Hospital Association of New York State (HANYS) has appointed MediSysÛª Chief Operating Officer Bruce Flanz as the head of HANYS’ Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee.
The MediSys Pandemic Influenza Task Force includes select senior leadership and subject matter experts from the four non-profit hospitals that comprise the MediSys Health Network: Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, Flushing Hospital Medical Center, Peninsula Hospital Center, all in Queens, and Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center in Brooklyn. Jamaica Hospital and Brookdale Hospital are Level 1 Trauma Centers.
During a large-scale influenza outbreak, the hospitals could be overwhelmed with acutely ill patients, as well as people who are not acutely ill but are seeking care (flu shots, flu tests, other problems), in addition to trauma victims. During this spring’s H1N1 outbreak in the City, with Queens as its epicenter, some of the MediSys Health NetworkÛªs hospitalsÛª Emergency Departments (EDs) experienced a massive increase in their daily patient volume (rising to over 660 ED patients in a 24-hour period at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, a 115% increase over its average number of visits.) In the spring outbreak of H1N1 in Queens, Jamaica Hospital deployed its two 36-foot long Mobile Health Centers to serve as treatment areas for patients who had come to the emergency room seeking care for influenza-like illness. At Flushing Hospital an ambulatory care clinic was converted to serve as an extension of the Emergency Department for influenza patients. At each hospital screeners were stationed at entrances to identify patients with influenza-like illness before they entered the facility in order to reduce the spread of the virus. Patients identified with influenza-like symptoms were directed to dedicated triage and treatment areas. In addition, MediSysÛª extensive network of ambulatory care centers in Queens and Brooklyn (see attached map) experienced a significant increase in visits from patients seeking care for influenza-like symptoms. In an anticipated resurgence of H1N1, these ambulatory care centers can again serve to divert traffic from ERÛªs, especially if the public is encouraged to use them by a coordinated informational media campaign involving City agencies.
At Ground Zero on 9/11, and at relief efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Andrew in Florida, Katrina and Rita in the Gulf, and after the NY State north country ice storm and other large scale emergencies, MediSys’ Disaster Medical Response Team was on hand providing much needed assistance.
ÛWe are focusing on preparations for the care of residents in communities in Queens and Brooklyn in an anticipated resurgence of swine flu, ideally with effective communication and coordination with public agencies to ensure maximum utilization of all available resources should the need arise,Û said Mark Marino, director of emergency management at MediSys Health Network.
Details on the MediSys’ hospitals’ Community Emergency Management resources and activities are available at http://www.medisysprepares.org.
An excerpt is below:
MediSys Health Network Emergency Management Program
As a vital component of the communityÛªs infrastructure, MediSys Health Network is committed to standing ready to respond to emergency situations that affect the community and to developing, maintaining and implementing procedures to ensure the hospitalÛªs ability to function under extreme circumstances. The Department of Emergency Management is responsible for facilitating the development of the Emergency Management Program and the Emergency Operations Plans, which together constitute the framework by which the organization approaches emergency response.
The MediSys Health Network Emergency Management Program’s mission is to provide our patients and community with emergency management of disaster situations. To this end, we have developed a comprehensive program that mobilizes our resources and increases our capacity to care for a large number of casualties. The program goals are:
- Maintain consistent delivery of high quality medical services under extreme conditions
- Maintain a safe environment for our patients, visitors and employees
- Employ systems to ensure business continuity
- Continually address the medical needs of the community
The scope of the emergency management program includes the assessment of hazards that potentially affect any entity of the MediSys Health Network enterprise, including but not limited to:
- All Acute and Long Term Care facilities
- All on campus departments and operations
- Community based ambulatory care settings
- Prehospital Care and Home Health operations
- Transition Care Units
- Continuing/Long Term Care operations
Assets and resources from these entities may also be utilized to manage emergency incidents.
The hospitalÛªs management of emergency situations has been standardized to address any potential injury causing event (PICE) that may occur in the community, at our main campus, or at any off campus locations. These events are categorized as:
- Mass Casualty Incidents
- Environment of Care Incidents
- Systems/Utility Failures
- Staffing and Supplies Shortages
- Security/Safety Incidents
- Mass Gathering Events
The response guidelines to specific incidents are attached to the operation plan for each type of incident or condition code. Although these situations require variations in response and resource allocation, the standardized management approach is applicable in every eventuality. Key principles of the response plans are:
- Utilization of the Incident Command System
- Activation of a proportional and scalable response
- Minimize employee re-assignments and functional system changes
- Ensure patient and staff safety
- Maintain highest standard of care for existing and new patients
MediSys Health Network operates 17 basic and advanced life support ambulances in the New York City 911 system. MediSys Health Network has been an active participant with the Greater New York Hospital Association – Emergency Preparedness Coordinating Council.