Health community prepares for disasters | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Health community prepares for disasters

Aug 22, 2014

Representatives of the hospitals in North Dakota and the state Health Department says if disaster strikes, the state’s facilities are ready to respond.

The hospitals say there are good lines of communication between them and local and state emergency managers – as well as among hospitals themselves.

"Our hospitals, our long term care facilities, our EMS agencies, our emergency managers and our private business partners all work together in reviewing one anothers' plans, and making sure that if we say, 'We have you in our planning,' and we say 'You're going to do this,' they agree," said Mary Tello-Pool, the director of the state Health Department’s Division of Hospital Preparedness. "We know that if we do need to respond, we can count on them."

"I feel we are very well prepared to handle disasters anywhere," said Sanford Health’s eastern North Dakota region emergency manager Ellen Rasmussen. "We're not going to hoard our resources to ourselves, or wait for our doomsday. We're very open to helping other people."

Greg Busch is the director of safety, security and emergency management at Bismarck’s St. Alexius Medical Center.  He says he agrees that everyone works together – in the event something major happens.

"We work very closely with Sanford, just a couple of blocks away," said Busch. "In Bismarck, whatever happens to us is going to be happening to Sanford."

Busch says the two emergency staffs know each other well, as well as the state and local resources.

"We have to," said Busch. "We need to work together."

Tello-Pool says there are challenges – one of them being the state’s growing population.

"The oil industry is fantastic for our state, but there is a health and medical side," said Tello-Pool. "We have some great needs. We need to insure that, as the population grows and as these organizations are growing, we're here to help them enhance their plans, to make sure everyone is well taken care of."