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Critical Facility Damage Reduction Hospital and Government Teamwork

FOLEY, AL - Teamwork among hospital and government personnel resulted in a hospital ready to face Hurricane Ivan on Sept. 15, 2004. Hurricane Ivan, a Category 3 storm, packed winds over 100 mph when it passed over the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, in Foley, Alabama. Protecting the critical facility began far ahead of the winds.

Working with local, State, and Federal partners, the Medical Center conducted a vulnerability study and obtained hurricane shutters through a Federal and State grant. Charles Eubanks, Director of Plant Operations, indicated, “Our preparation time to protect the hospital’s windows was reduced to 3-4 hours due to the new shutters, and we were able to use the time savings to further prepare for the approaching hurricane.”

It was the impressive efforts of the hospital maintenance personnel that brought their Hurricane Plan into action. The plan included installation of shutters, preparations around the grounds, and set-up of the back-up systems, such as the generator. The success of the Hurricane Plan is attributed to the partnership in the plan’s development by facility staff, medical professionals, and Baldwin County Emergency Management personnel.

Protected from damages, the hospital remained operational during and immediately following Hurricane Ivan. Significantly, forty patients, including four on ventilators, were able to remain and 10 doctors were onsite to address post-disaster medical needs. Stephen Pennington, the Medical Center’s CEO, said, “The excellent cooperation among our employees, physicians, and patients allowed us to continue to provide high quality care throughout the storm. We are grateful to local, State, and Federal emergency management agencies for their help in preparing our hospital for this disaster."