Hospital prepares for crisis

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Preparations for any emergency situation arising from possible severe weather are under way at Natchez Regional Medical Center, CEO Jack Houghton said Tuesday.

Those preparations include not only making sure the hospital can operate normally without power but also letting the state Department of Health know about the facility’s bed availability in case of evacuation of patients from coastal communities.

Weather forecasters late Tuesday showed the eye of Hurricane Ivan making landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday somewhere near the state line between Mississippi and Alabama. Earlier forecasts had put the storm’s course on a more westerly track, with landfall closer to Gulfport or New Orleans.

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In any event, the Natchez medical facility will be ready, Houghton said.

&uot;We’re communicating with the state at the current time regarding our readiness status,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve topped off the fuel for emergency generators to carry us about three days. We’re getting all the nursing units set up with flashlights and batteries and making sure there is plenty of food for our needs in the refrigerators and freezers.&uot;

Getting ready for an emergency means following a systematic check list, and hospital employees are nearing completion of that list, Houghton said.

&uot;We’ve topped off the oxygen tanks. We’ve had plenty of linens delivered. Now we’re looking at areas where we have northern exposures,&uot; he said. Those areas will be prepared for high winds should the need arise.

&uot;We’ve systematically worked our way through emergency supplies, making sure our operating rooms will be functional and our emergency room fully operational.&uot;

The most important task is ensuring the hospital has full power, Houghton said.

&uot;And we have an arrangement made should we lose water. We’ll have potable water delivered in tank trucks,&uot; he said.