HRMC holds emergency disaster drill

CLEWISTON — On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Hendry Regional Medical Center (HRMC) conducted an emergency disaster drill in conjunction with community partners including local and state agencies.

Twice a year HRMC must participate in a live or simulated disaster as a condition of participation with regulatory entities such as The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare. Disaster drills are practical, real-life scenarios that allow HRMC and other agencies to collaborate and test their preparedness for emergency situations.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CHS Public Service Academy student acting as plague victim is treated in the HRMC Emergency Department.

This simulated situation was the evacuation of the Clewiston Nursing and Rehabilitation Center under the pretense a patient’s family member had recently traveled and was showing signs of a plague epidemic. Over 45 students from Clewiston High School’s Public Service Academy volunteered to act as sick patients. “The students love the real-life experience they receive by participating in activities like this. This exercise aligns with the academy standards they learn through the program,” stated Kristine Petersen, CHS Public Service Academy Instructor.

To make the simulated situation as realistic as possible, a technique called moulage was used; the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training. Everyday household items such as oatmeal and coffee grounds were used to create fake vomit and diarrhea.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
HRMC staff hard at work in the incident command center.

To create the most realistic situation outside agencies and community partners participated in the role they would fill in a real emergency situation. The Clewiston Police Department, Hendry County EMS, Hendry/Glades Department of Health, Hendry County Emergency Management and Charlotte County Department of Health were all on hand to test emergency preparedness plans and actions.

The goal of any disaster drill is to test a mass influx of patients, to involve as many departments and systems within the organization and to stress those systems to their max. “Overly stressing multiple systems in our organization allows us to identify both our strengths and weaknesses” said David Theroux, HRMC’s chief operating officer.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
CHS Public Service Academy student covered in moulage.

At the conclusion of the drill, all parties are brought together to discuss and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the exercise and organization. The identified items are then used to develop an implementation plan that is used for the continuous improvement of Hendry Regional’s response capabilities to all emergencies.

“As a community hospital we continue to strive to be better prepared to serve the residents of Hendry County,” stated R.D. Williams, HRMC CEO. “We are your hometown healthcare provider and are always here and fully prepared to serve you in your time of need.”

About Hendry Regional Medical Center: Hendry Regional Medical Center is a 25-bed critical access hospital that incorporates modern technology with state-of-the-art medical staff to care for its patients. Hendry Regional Medical Center’s mission is “to excel in quality, compassion, and innovation to make our community healthier.”

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