COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - With the strongest hurricane on record expected to impact Florida and Georgia in coming days and a number of evacuees already in the Columbus area, St. Francis leadership has put processes in place to be fully prepared.
Using the comprehensive Emergency Operation Plan already in place, leaders have focused on securing supplies, creating additional capacity and refining backup systems, just in case they are needed.
A number of preparations have already been taken to ensure the hospital is ready to care for its patients and staff, with updates being provided to all staff at least daily.
Interim CEO Dan Jones, who joined the hospital this summer, has been through numerous hurricanes in the past, having worked in the New Orleans area for many years.
"St. Francis is in a constant state of readiness for any situation that may arise in the community from natural disasters to disease outbreaks, such as the flu," he said. "Throughout these coming days, our number one priority will continue to be providing the highest quality of care for our patients. Hand in hand with that is caring for our staff. Our Emergency Preparedness Team continues to monitor Hurricane Irma with the goal of being fully prepared for any potential needs. We are getting ready for a worst case scenario while praying and hoping for the best."
Among the items already addressed internally are:
Food and Linens – Extra supplies are on site or on the way for the hospital and the St. Francis Bradley Center, to address potential interruptions in regular delivery systems or power outages.
Medical Supplies, including medications – Additional supplies are available or on the way, anticipating the needs that may have to be addressed from visitors who've had to quickly evacuate homes in the direct path of Irma.
Security – St. Francis has been working with local law enforcement and the Emergency Operations Center to insure any security needs will be met as well as to facilitate working with other area providers.
Communications – Walkie-talkies, satellite phones, and a ham radio are available in case of interruptions to normal communication channels.
Physical Plant – Extra generators, fans, and kitty litter are on site or on the way so that the hospital will be able to run essential operations for a number of hours without power. (Cat litter is used for emergency toilets should the plumbing or water systems fail.
St. Francis works in cooperation with local and state leadership, coordinating activities with emergency operations staff to plan for the most effective community resource usage throughout all phases of a crisis.
Leaders are in constant communication, collaborating with local officials as well as Midtown Medical Center as the regional coordinating hospital.