April 24, 1998

Medical center’s response analyzed

Medical center's response analyzed

Representatives from all areas of Vanderbilt University Medical Center gathered earlier this week to analyze the institution's response to last week's tornado emergency.

Kenneth Browning, director of Plant Services; Sandra Greeno, M.S.N., clinical instructor in Nursing; and Richard Bird, director of Institutional Safety, led the 30-member disaster critique group. Under discussion was how well the medical center responded during the first few hours after severe weather, including tornadoes, swept through Nashville and Middle Tennessee on the afternoon of April 16.

According to the committee, some of the things that worked well included:

o All hospital staff and faculty pitched in to help in the care of any patients VUMC received after the disaster.

o Vital services to the hospital, such as power and heat, were never lost during the crisis.

o Most departments followed VUMC¹s existing disaster plan once they were informed about the storm.

The group also examined possible areas for improvement in the event of similar situations in the future. Among those were:

o There must be an enhanced notification system that reaches all buildings to inform occupants of the need to take cover (possible solutions discussed include a public address system that extends to all areas of the medical center).

o Patients discharged during a crisis must have all necessary paperwork and medications to leave the building in a timely manner.

o The phone system must be more closely regulated to prevent overloads.

o More accurate ways to count and track patients after their admission to the Emergency Room should be created.