June 01, 2009

News Release

For Immediate Release

Emergency Drill Strengthens Community Planning

Greene County’s hospitals, the health department and Office of Emergency Management practiced today what could be a real-life scenario should the community’s medical resources be taxed during a disaster.

Organizers gathered at JQH Arena on the Missouri State University campus to drill the distribution of a medical surge cache and the creation of an alternate medical care site. The exercise included dozens of EMS, security, emergency medical staff from Springfield area hospitals, nursing school students and volunteers playing the roles of patients.

The cache includes special medical cots for acute care patients, bedding, bathing supplies, a small medications cart and more.

St. John’s and CoxHealth received grant funding for the regional medical surge cache through Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response Hospital Preparedness Program (ASPR HPP) grant number CFDA 93.889. ASPR HPP is a Federal program administered through the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to advance the medical community’s awareness and capabilities for a response.

The grant monies are appropriated by the Missouri Hospital Association after annual assessments of medical capacity. This is the seventh year of appropriations.

“We’re always trying to increase surge capacity for the hospitals. The specific supplies they are working with today are part of a medical surge cache that went out statewide. Springfield was appropriated 750 “medical surge beds” and corresponding supplies out of 5,500 available statewide,” said Jackie Neylon, manager of Disaster Preparedness Planning for Missouri Hospital Association.

During the exercise organizers set up approximately 120 beds in 80 minutes and processed approximately 55 “patients” within one hour.

“We learned a lot during the ice storms, but we know that there’s always room for improvement,” said Bob Patterson, St. John’s EMS director. “Drills like this allow us to identify gaps in our emergency planning and to improve in overall disaster preparedness.”

Opportunities for improvement include: registration and tracking of patients, hand hygiene, hazardous waste disposal and improved knowledge of how the cache is packaged.

Jason Henry, CoxHealth Emergency Management Officer, explained that a strong partnership in our community among medical providers, the health department, Greene County Office of Emergency Management and now Missouri State University helps ensure smooth and coordinated efforts.

MSU was an active disaster planning partner during the design and construction of JQH Arena. Special accommodations were made to allow the transformation of the arena. Those included bathroom facility accommodations.

“MSU is a great community partner, and all of us are grateful for them allowing the use of JQH Arena for this type of scenario,” said Carrie Richardson, Ozarks Community Hospital spokesperson.

“We now have a plan to provide an alternate medical care site for an extended period for our community,” said Laurie Cunningham, Vice President of Corporate Communication, CoxHealth.

Media contact: Jaci McReynolds, Public Information Administrator, (417) 830-9511 cell

springfield greene county health department
city of springfield and greene county logos

Harold K. Bengsch Building

227 E. Chestnut Expwy. • Springfield, MO 65802
417-864-1658 • health.springfieldmo.gov