Hospital Disaster Plans Must Indude a Strong Mental Health Component. (Lessons from Sept. 11)

By Moon, Mary Ann | Clinical Psychiatry News, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Hospital Disaster Plans Must Indude a Strong Mental Health Component. (Lessons from Sept. 11)


Moon, Mary Ann, Clinical Psychiatry News


On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Fuad Issa strolled through his neighborhood in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with his wife. Their placid mood was shattered when they returned home to find a frantic message on the answering machine about the terrorist attack that had just struck the Pentagon.

Dr. Issa, medical director of psychiatric and addiction services at the Virginia Hospital Center, Arlington, immediately called the head nurse on his unit to say he was on his way in and asked her to get a copy of the hospital's disaster plan for him.

He soon confronted a big shock: The disaster plan of Virginia Hospital Center-the designated receiving hospital for Pentagon medical emergencies-had no protocol for handling the severe psychological stress of disaster victims, coworkers, family members, rescue personnel, or hospital staff.

Dr. Issa also was surprised to learn that no other facility in the region had a disaster plan that adequately addressed mental health issues.

"Even the person I talked to at St. Vincent s Hospital in New York told me their disaster protocol was the same as everyone else's. It had no provisions for psychiatric care," Dr. Issa said in an interview with CLINICAL PSYCHIATRY] NEWS.

So Dr. Issa and several colleagues made sure that their hospital's revised disaster plan addressed mental health care. "It serves not only patients and their families, but health care providers in the hospital," he said.

On Sept. 11, Dr. Issa was joined at the hospital by the head nurse, a clinical nurse specialist, and two fellow psychiatrists. One of these physicians had been an Army doctor for 8 years, and Dr. Issa had been a medical officer in the army of his own country; Syria, for 3 years before moving to the United States. Both would draw on their experience with military medicine-specifically, treating large-scale trauma-in the days to come.

As wounded workers began arriving, the five members of this ad-hoc psychiatric team identified themselves to the hospital's command center and arranged to see every victim who entered the facility; They set up a treatment site at the opposite end of the hospital from the emergency room, so that the patients, family members, rescue workers, and government personnel who gathered there wouldn't crowd the emergency room.

Every patient with minor injuries was directed to the team for a brief psychological intervention, a standard postdisaster "debriefing" session, before discharge. More seriously injured patients who were admitted to the hospital were seen for a similar intervention at their bedsides. ER staffers also were told to call on this team if they encountered a psychiatric emergency among the terrorists' victims. They made only one such call on Sept. 11. In fact, Dr. Issa thinks the hospital's ER treated only 44 patients.

The psychiatric team was indebted to several workers from CrisisLink, a local telephone crisis intervention service, who had a longstanding relationship with the Virginia Hospital Center and 'just showed up to help," he said. Those workers manned a bank of phones.

More help arrived from the Pentagon- representatives of the Marines, Army; Air Force, and Navy-who set up communication links to the crash site and relayed information to relatives and friends.

In the days right after the attack, the psychiatric team followed up on all the patients they had seen on Sept. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hospital Disaster Plans Must Indude a Strong Mental Health Component. (Lessons from Sept. 11)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.