Oakwood prepares for regional emergency

Health systems and governmental agencies throughout metropolitan Detroit took part in a region-wide crisis drill on Oct. 4, but officials at Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. took the training exercise to a new level. At Oakwood, it was all systems go.

Oakwood activated its crisis response plan at all four acute-care hospitals as well as its ambulatory sites, setting up command centers at Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center (OHMC), Oakwood Annapolis Hospital (OAH), Oakwood Heritage Hospital (OHH), Oakwood Southshore Medical Center (OSMC) and at the Oakwood Healthcare Center—Canton. Additionally, Oakwood activated command centers in the Oakwood Physicians integrated (OPi) department, at the Corporate Services and Muirhead buildings and at Oakwood Common and Oakwood Skilled & Home Care. Oakwood Physician Network (OPN) sites, along with the Oakwood Infusion; Oakwood Laboratories; Oakwood Care Connection; Senior Care Solutions and Oakwood DME and the executive offices at the Parklane building in Dearborn and the Center for Exceptional Families took part, too.

Participants included physicians, clinical and non-clinical staff as well as senior leadership and executives.

“We took this exercise a step further than most other organizations,” said Maureen D’Agostino, senior vice president of organizational excellence, accreditation and compliance. “We wanted to evaluate not only how well our clinicians responded to the situation, but how well we communicated with each other and how the system operated, as a whole.”

Named ‘Operation Shared Burden,’ the drill tested the ability of regional health facilities and local governments to respond to the aftermath of a fictitious detonation of an Improvised Nuclear Device. Objectives tested included evacuation of victims, radiation release, shelter-in-place activities, medical supply management and distribution, communications, emergency/trauma triage & treatment, command center management; radiation response and decontamination and treatment. There were nearly 200 simulated victims to test the ability of an over-taxed emergency department to handle a major catastrophe.

“It was the largest exercise I’ve ever been involved with,” said John Cargill, emergency and trauma coordinator at OAH, where 60 volunteer ‘victims’ tested the skills of an already-busy emergency department.

The objective, from the executives to the non-clinical staff who took part, was to practice Oakwood’s established crisis management plan and look for ways to improve it. All participants took their role very seriously, according to Maureen D’Agostino, senior vice president of organizational excellence, accreditation and compliance.

“The communities we serve expect us to give the highest level of care no matter what the situation is. This wasn’t just practice for anybody. Every participant was focused on solving problems,” she said. “We’re more prepared now than we ever were; we gained a lot of knowledge through this drill—and we hope we never need to use it in a real-life situation.”

CUTLINES: Oakwood paramedics Jim Ursitti (top left) and Brian Houle assist Megan Rehbein, of Dearborn, a mock casualty, into the Emergency Department at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn. 

Barb Medvec (above, left), Chief Nursing Officer at Oakwood Healthcare, Inc. and Doug Welday, executive vice president of operations and division president of the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center, receive new information at one of the Oakwood command centers.