Bay area hospitals plan for worst-case scenarios - FOX 13 News

Bay area hospitals plan for worst-case scenarios

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ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) -

Striking images from New York show medical centers in crisis. It's chaos during catastrophe as health care workers wheel out patients during the storm.

It's enough to get anyone's attention, especially those who manage hospitals. When storms hit hard, other health care workers in other areas take notice.

LINK: More Sandy coverage on MyFoxTampaBay.com

"It's pretty terrifying and I think all hospitals and anybody who works in healthcare is on heightened awareness when they see this happen," said Bayfront spokesperson Emily Nipps.

One of the biggest threats to medical care is loss of power, and it's happening all over the northeastern U.S.

"At this point there are 110,000 customers without power, including a number of hospitals. I should add that hospitals by law must have generators at the ready, so there are no hospitals that don't have a form of electric generation, but some have lost their utility-generated power," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

It's standard for hospitals to switch to generators to power medical equipment, but on Tuesday Bayfront Medical Center went farther: they took delivery of a two-story generator. It's strong enough to illuminate the entire facility, and will help them plan for worst-case scenarios.

And Nipps says the hospital expanded its emergency plan earlier this year to prepare for the Republican National Convention. They're ready for more than natural disaster.

"If our computer system got hacked into, or what if we have mass causalities from a blast injury," she said.

Moving patients either in or out of a hospital is crucial during any catastrophe, and it's only possible with staffing.

"We have staff that they know they are on call if there is an emergency. They know that they have to be here, and all of our staff is trained to handle patients," Nipps explained.

After all, handling patients during an emergency is a hospital's specialty, regardless of natural disaster.

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