The world’s largest medical city is ready for the storm


Harvey’s 51 inches of rain over five days set a record for the highest amount of precipitation from a single storm anywhere in the continental United States. But the Flood validated more than a decade of meticulous planning and post-Allison improvements in the TMC, which suffered minimal flooding and fared better than many other Houston institutions.

“The reason for this is the huge investment in infrastructure and fortification that took place after Allison,” said Shawn Cloonan, chief operating officer and executive vice president of TMC. “The Texas Medical Center company has focused on strengthening this infrastructure so that we can maintain operations. “

After Allison, underground emergency generators and switching devices were erected at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. During Harvey, the submarine doors – essentially steel barriers sealed with rubber bladders – preserved the hospital buildings.

“The difference was that we had no water intrusion on this campus. We had no loss of power. We were fully operational, ”said Tom Flanagan, vice president of trauma services and disaster preparedness for Memorial Hermann Health System. “We were able to house our staff and patients indoors while continuing to receive patients… a 180 degree difference from what happened during Tropical Storm Allison.”

Harvey also revealed the importance of good data for decision making, good tools to communicate those decisions and good organization for emergency response, said James Mitchell, assistant director of emergency management at Texas Children’s Hospital. .

“We have a very mature Incident Command System implementation,” he said, adding that communication with employees had been particularly vital during Harvey.

“We have over 16,000 staffing positions in our system, and thanks to Harvey, during this

five days, we sent around 320,000 contacts, whether it was communicating with everyone or
it was sending personalized messages to very specific audiences with the information they needed to take action, ”Mitchell said. “One of the things that helps us be effective is that we have a very strong and resilient employee culture. Everyone is essential to our response.

The Houston Methodist Hospital also remained operational in the TMC and its entire system, spokeswoman Gale Smith said.

“Harvey was a very unique weather event,” Smith said. “Allison was how we learned our lessons. We have moved our generators. We installed the flood gates so that for every weather event we’ve had since then, we haven’t had a major setback.

In its leadership role in emergency preparedness for member institutions, TMC strives to improve supply chain collaboration, as well as mobility and access across the board. campus during a storm.

“We have shown the means of the infrastructure to maintain operations. Now the second level
is to make sure people have meaningful access to this care, ”Cloonan said. “TMC led multi-agency meetings on contingency planning and flood mitigation strategy which resulted in updated policies. These revisions include new ways to manage the critical supply chain for medical waste, food and other institutional necessities. We have also launched an inter-agency emergency preparedness portal so that there can be an exchange of information and needs in real time. “

The checklist also includes seeking federal funding for highway infrastructure to fortify critical corridors to the TMC so that healthcare professionals and patients have access during storms, in addition to working with authorities. local, state and regional in transit areas.

“You’re not going to have these amazing scenes where you have a doctor wading through waist-deep water to go for surgery. This is unacceptable, ”Cloonan said.

Like UTHealth, TMC will also invest in high water vehicles, he added.

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