President and CEO Tom Gessel says the staff has done more emergency preparedness training since the Sept. 11 tragedy, but it had never prepared to evacuate the entire facility at once.
Read about the honorable mention in the C.A.R.E.S. category
“It's amazing, in retrospect, the calmness and the methodical way in which that was handled,” Gessel says. “Patients' medical records went with them so receiving physicians could pick up care plans and not miss a beat. … It appeared coordinated and well-planned, even though it wasn't planned at all.”
The hospital's basement took on 16 feet of water, destroying all electrical and mechanical systems, cutting communication lines for telephones and computers, and leaving the facility without air conditioning or steam for hot water.
A command center at sister facility Jewish Hospital handled communications with other facilities, patients' families and the media to make the transfers as smooth as possible. “It didn't matter what their jobs were, they were all pitching in,” Gessel says.
CARES category judge William Roche, clinical director at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, Paterson, N.J., says he was impressed by the staff's attitude. “Each of the team members forgets about their job description and begins to solidify the concept of team and shared responsibility.” CARES stands for compassion, accountability, respect, enthusiasm and service.