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Community cooperation allows smooth hospital move

By Staff | Mar 9, 2009

Cooperation and partnership were the words heard again and again as 112 patients were uneventfully moved from the now closed Southwest Florida Medical Center to the newly opened Gulf Coast Medical Center in just under eight hours today.
The highly successful move was a mammoth undertaking orchestrated by Lee County Emergency Medical Services and Lee Memorial Health System in partnership with many volunteer agencies, and with the help of the community who heeded warnings and steered clear of the path between the two hospital campuses, said Kim Dickerson, EMS Operations chief in a prepared statement released Monday.
The move began with the first patient beginning transport from Southwest at 7:41 a.m. and the last patient arriving at Gulf Coast at 3:30 p.m. One patient was transported by helicopter, and the remainder transported in an average of three trips by 25 ambulances, a critical care bus and a wheel chair van.
As an exercise in its Mass Casualty Incident plan, EMS found the policies and procedures already in place worked very well, and will require few changes, said Dickerson. MCI drills are conducted twice a year.
Members of the State Emergency Support Function-8 team, which advises communities on health related emergencies, observed the exercise. Dickerson said they were impressed with the communication and coordination between the hospital and EMS staffs.
Volunteering to help with the transfers were 55 Edison State college nursing, EMT and Paramedic students; Collier County EMS; Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District; Hendry County EMS; Lehigh Fire Rescue; Sartin Services and Healthpark Care Center Transport Van.
Regular EMS operations continued with a slightly smaller crew than on most Sundays, and by the time the standard number of ambulances was needed, the exercise was complete and the ambulances were back to their regular assignments.
“The move went smoothly, daily operations went smoothly, in all it was a great event,” said Dickerson. “Patients were moved safely and as comfortably as possible, and they were excited about their new private rooms.”
A large number of patients were discharged from Southwest prior to and during moving day, diminishing the length of time required to transport patients.