Accreditation

Harris Health System vs. Hurricane Harvey

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, March 1, 2019

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“At one point, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to save the hospital,” says the facilities director.  

It’s been one year since Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, flooding the city and displacing tens of thousands of people. In one week, the Category 4 storm dropped 61 inches of rain and caused $125 billion in damages. The National Hurricane Center called Harvey “the most significant tropical cyclone rainfall event in U.S. history.”

Ericka Brown, MD, is chief operating officer at Harris Health System in Houston, which was inundated by floodwaters for more than five days during Harvey. She says to consider prepositioning emergency food and medical items closer to your hospital, and to review the physical location of critical equipment and systems to ensure their continued operation in a natural disaster.

But, most importantly, she says, “make sure you take care of your staff after the storm.” More than 400 employees from Harris Health had homes significantly damaged or destroyed in the flood. With so many workers impacted by the floodwaters, response and recovery after the storm meant helping staff members as well.

Harris Health had many sites impacted by the storm, including Ben Taub Hospital, which sits in the heart of a collection of healthcare facilities known as the Texas Medical Center. With 440 beds, Ben Taub is the largest hospital in the Harris Health System, serves as a teaching hospital, and is one of only two Level I trauma centers in the area.

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