Hospitals learn valuable lessons in responding to natural and man-made catastrophes

Over the past five years, hospitals in nearly every region of the country have been challenged by extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy; the Joplin, Mo., tornado; upper Midwest flooding; and crippling winter storms across the East, Midwest and South are just a few examples of unpredictable and tragic natural events that have required hospitals to plan for the worst. And natural events aren’t the only threat. In January, a hazardous chemical spill into a West Virginia river sent more than 30 people to area hospitals and caused state authorities to deem the water undrinkable and unusable for medical procedures. The incident led Charleston Area Medical Center to enact its emergency response plan and forced hospital leaders to replace the average 7,200 gallons of water the facility uses each weekend for patient care.