A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER'S RESPONSE
September 3, 2002Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers' (SVCMC)
eight hospitals activated detailed disaster plans within minutes of the
first plane crash into the World Trade Center. As the closest Level I
trauma center to ground zero, St. Vincent's Manhattan immediately became
a focus of emergency preparations. SVCMC treated more than 1,400 people
as a direct result of the tragedy. St. Vincent's Manhattan alone treated
796 patients immediately after the attack, including 232 rescue workers.
executive David J. Campbell, FACHE, president and CEO of SVCMC, writes
about the experience he and his staff encountered. In times of crisis
and need, healthcare executives ensure that hospitals and other healthcare
organizations serve as "safety nets" in their communities by
providing emergency and ongoing care, as well as accurate, timely information
about public health threats.
on its experience following the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and other
emergency situations, SVCMC already was well-positioned to deal with a
significant crisis, according to Campbell. However, despite its experience
and preparation, the staff at SVCMC was taught eight important lessons
in the hours, days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks. According to
Campbell, they are:
- Mass casualty
events, especially those potentially involving nuclear, biological or
chemical events, require regional planning for a regional response.
- The increased risk of terrorist attack requires adding comprehensive
nuclear, biological and chemical protocols to hospital disaster plans.
- The ability to share emergency information between and among healthcare
providers and government agencies must be improved.
- A regional system of collecting and sharing key information - before,
during, and following an emergency - must be implemented.
- The important role of behavioral health services in disaster planning
and response must be recognized and addressed during and after a mass
- Disaster response must include a focus on the immediate and longer-term
effect on patients and staff.
- Healthcare providers must develop plans that provide interaction with
the public, especially in the areas of media relations, volunteer management,
community health and preparedness education, and management of blood donors
and of donated supplies and items.
- The critical role of hospitals in local and regional disaster response
creates a major financial challenge for hospitals that must be recognized
from these learnings, local and regional governments look to healthcare
executives and their organizations to help carry out federal, state and
local programs and services designed to meet a multitude of public health
needs. Since 9/11, the role of hospitals in disaster preparedness has
clearly been expanded. "Disaster preparedness is a fundamental responsibility
of all hospitals, but the events of September 11 and the continuing threat
of terrorism have redefined what institutions must consider in serving
as a resource for their communities," Campbell writes.
is the responsibility of healthcare executives to share their learning
with others in the industry," said Campbell. "The American College
of Healthcare Executives provides a forum to communicate knowledge and
developments in the field to other healthcare executive leaders, helping
to ensure that everyone receives the best possible care."
D. 9/11: A Healthcare Provider's Response. Frontiers. 2002;19(1):3-13;
available upon request)
information, contact Edelman, on behalf of the American College of Healthcare
Executives, at 312-240-3370.
contact David J. Campbell, FACHE, call St. Vincent's Press Office at (212)