BMH prepared to handle the worse

Published 10:01 pm Friday, April 29, 2011

Submitted by LuAnn W. Joyner

Community Relations/Marketing Specialist

Bertie Memorial Hospital

WINDSOR – Bertie County has seen its share of disasters over the years, but none so devastating as the twin tornados that ripped through the communities of Askewville and Colerain near dusk on Saturday, April 16.

Ironically, a Hospital Incident Command System (all-hazard incident management) training had been held at Bertie Memorial Hospital only four days before the events of April 16. Workshop attendees never dreamed that many of the concepts that they learned would be put to use only a few days later.

A host of BMH staff members came to the hospital, some unasked, to help in any way that they could that fateful evening.   Nurses, PAs, Behavioral Health personnel, Environmental Services and other professional and support staff members converged on the hospital and got to work. Only 12 patients came into the hospital that night and, thankfully, all sustained only minor injuries and were treated and released.

BMH officials applaud the staff of its sister University Health Systems East hospital, Roanoke-Chowan, for the wonderful job they did in caring for the lion’s share of the victims.  Most of the injured were taken to R-CH because of its proximity to the hardest hit areas of Bertie County and because the R-CH Emergency Department is larger than BMH’s.

Nonetheless, BMH was prepared for the challenge. Hospital personnel, EMS and transport services worked together as a team beautifully.   Additional beds were set-up in the Outpatient Clinic in order to handle the over-flow from the 8-bed Emergency Department. A quick thinking BMH employee called the Windsor Bojangle’s restaurant to ask for the evening’s left over food in order to feed the families of victims that had gathered at the hospital.  Not only did Bojangle’s bring left over food, they prepared and donated more than 100 fresh meals for the people awaiting news of their loved ones.  Grateful (and hungry) staff members also partook of the delicious food.

Several members of the BMH Chaplains Council joined Behavioral Health staff members in comforting and counseling the victims and their families.

Despite the horror of the disaster, it was heartwarming to see the dedicated team at BMH providing excellent, efficient and compassionate care to those in need.

Bertie Memorial Hospital’s superb response to the emergency is a fine example of the University Health Systems vision of incredible people providing incredible care – every day.

Bertie Memorial Hospital is a subsidiary of East Carolina Health, part of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.