Safety

Surviving the storm: How one Houston hospital held together after Hurricane Harvey

Healthcare Life Safety Compliance, August 1, 2018

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  Houston, barely 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, is familiar with flooding. Each year, storms shut down one or more parts of the interstates that surround and intersect the fourth largest city in the United States, periodically cutting off neighborhood access for hours or even days. 

But last August, the city experienced flooding on a different scale when Hurricane Harvey came ashore and inundated the city for more than five straight days. As Ericka Brown, MD, chief operating officer at Harris Health System in Houston, puts it, “I have a new appreciation for water.”

Ben Taub Hospital sits in the heart of a collection of healthcare facilities known as the Texas Medical Center, deep in Houston. 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.

Ben Taub Hospital’s Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) has been influenced and updated numerous times after storms over the last few years, notes Brown, who in the two years prior to Harvey served as Ben Taub’s senior vice president and administrator. Some of those changes came in handy. And “some of those things went out the window, because this was different,” says Brown, noting that until Harvey she had never been through a tropical event.

The EOP includes identifying the number of staff members designated to ride out any storm, as well as those who are expected to arrive at the hospital as relief afterward.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Healthcare Life Safety Compliance.

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