Emergency Teamwork – Care You Can Trust

On a warm and stormy night in July 2018, the Administrator of Integrity Healthcare of Carbondale, Illinois received a call from staff informing him that alarms were sounding in the facility.  While he was en route to the building, a second call came in from a nurse, informing him that smoke was coming from some of the air vents. Administrator, Tim Conner, told his nurse that he was on his way, but that she should begin to evacuate the building.

The police department arrived.  The fire department arrived.  Neighbors, having seen the arrival of first responders also responded and went to the building to help.  The facility’s residents were moved to a neighboring church, where a staging area was established. Some residents were in wheelchairs and others had been transferred in their beds, but all the residents were safe.

Tim Conner contacted fellow administrators at sister facilities in Marion and Herrin, Illinois.  Integrity Healthcare of Marion Administrator, Sherry Belcher notified her lead team and asked them to come in and prepare for emergency transfers.  Sherry contacted her Transportation Aide and sent him to Carbondale to help with the evacuation and transportation of residents. The Housekeeping Supervisor arrived and instructed his staff to start getting extra rooms ready for admissions, he and two of his staff members stayed a few hours preparing for the emergency admits.  The Administrator, Business Office Manager, and Social Service Director arrived and immediately set up stations so they could handle admissions paperwork, create identification bracelets and direct the transfers to their rooms.  Special efforts were made to keep the transfers together with their friends.  Sherry said, “A familiar face is important in these emergency situations.” Extra nurses arrived to assist in the admission process and extra CNAs arrived in time to toilet each new admission and take care of their needs as they arrived. Sherry and her team assessed the food supply for their extra guests and ensured all diet orders were complete for the next day.  Dietary staff were alerted of the situation and asked to come in early to prep for the extra residents. The lead team went to each room to meet the new residents and to assure them that they were safe and secure at Integrity Healthcare of Marion.

When Integrity Healthcare of Herrin Administrator, Lauriel Wingerter received a call from Tim Conner, she wrapped up her 2-year old baby and they headed to the Carbondale facility.  She contacted her lead team and sent them to their own Herrin facility to make sure that all their rooms were ready for emergency arrivals.  She specifically delegated certain responsibilities to her employees. The Dietary Manager was making certain there was plenty of extra food. The Social Service Director and Business Office Manager were making sure that the necessary admissions paperwork was completed.  The lead CNA and Housekeeper made certain rooms were set up and beds were comfortably made.  The Director of Nursing was responsible for bed assignments.  Extra nurses came in to provide the care needed.  Assured that her staff were doing their jobs well, Lauriel stopped in Carbondale to help on the scene.  While her baby remained asleep in her carrier, Lauriel helped return residents to the part of the Carbondale facility deemed safe.  Meanwhile at Integrity Healthcare of Herrin, staff were prepared.  Lauriel said, “The adrenaline was pumping and I have never been prouder of my team.”

Tim Conner remains calm as he talks about this experience.  “We are always prepared,” he said.  He applauds his staff for acting calmly and promptly.  “They couldn’t have done a better job,” he added.

Tim also applauds the local response, “Carbondale’s fire and police were phenomenal; Members of the Grace United Methodist Church opened their doors to our evacuees.”

While Team Integrity jumped into action and the evacuation and transfers were handled smoothly, the evening hours on that July night were just the beginning of the team work.

While medical records, treatments and medication were moved with the respective residents, other things had to be moved later. Supplies and clothing were transported from Carbondale to Herrin and Marion.  Reclining chairs were moved to assure that residents were comfortable.

Tim Connor issues special thanks to Dr. Javed and Dr. Tucker who made extra efforts to assist the smooth transition. Tim said that Janet Hester, Regional Clinical Director, for arriving with the IHC of Anna transport van and driver.  Without that, the transportation would have been much slower.  He applauds Kristi Karch, Regional Director of Operations for maintaining a detailed log of everything and everybody that was transferred.

Exactly 14 days later, over two dozen residents were moved back to their home at Integrity Healthcare of Carbondale.  The minimal damage in the building was a result of a power surge created by a power outage from a rain storm.  An air conditioning unit and an air exchange unit had to be replaced.

No resident was harmed.  We provide Care You Can Trust.   Integrity Healthcare Communities.