Disaster Readiness Tested During Summer Floods

Fort HealthCare nurses, physicians and staff from all departments work diligently to not only provide exceptional care to our patients, but also contribute selflessly to a variety of community causes and events.  

The stormy weather of June 2008 created a crisis not seen in the Jefferson County area for well over one hundred years. Jefferson County, the home to the majority of Fort HealthCare employees and patients, was being showcased on nightly weather reports with news of flooding and water-caused contamination. Fort HealthCare’s emergency preparedness was tested, as well as the competence and compassion of employees and administration, all while maintaining daily hospital and clinic operations in the middle of a flood zone.

Staff and administration were continually monitoring emergency supplies and planning for the worse-case scenario should the hospital’s water supply become contaminated and patients needed to be transferred. In this instance, Fort Memorial Hospital had plenty of advance warning and excellent communications with city, county and state emergency personnel.

Fort HealthCare staff was actively engaged in sandbagging efforts for community neighbors and helped with major clean-up efforts. During the most critical week of flooding danger, where water levels continued to rise to almost five feet above what is considered to be the normal flood level, Fort Memorial Hospital donated soup, bottles of fresh water, sunscreen, antibacterial hand spray, first aid kits and band-aids to the Red Cross stationed in Fort Atkinson and Jefferson to assist flood victims, volunteers, and city workers. The hospital joined other large businesses in their commitment to limit water use to help the city’s over-extended wastewater treatment facility maintain operations for many residents.

Fort HealthCare staff routinely tests their disaster preparedness capabilities during mock disasters, so staff is familiar with what to do in unusual emergency situations. Just a week prior to the flooding, a crisis management drill was held in which managers were asked to respond to a dangerous and damaging foul weather event. The training is instrumental in ensuring that hospital services are the best they can be during even the most difficult situations.

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