Pittsburgh's Top Hospitals Go to Emergency Standby during G-20

By Fabregas, Luis | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, September 2, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Pittsburgh's Top Hospitals Go to Emergency Standby during G-20

Fabregas, Luis, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

The city's top hospitals will be on standby emergency mode starting today, as they gear up for the possibility of medical emergencies during the Group of 20 summit.

Allegheny General Hospital, the closest hospital to the summit's Downtown epicenter, is putting on call extra doctors, nurses and other clinicians at its North Side campus. The hospital is about a mile away from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, where world leaders will gather Thursday and Friday.

"There is going to be some violence; it's a given," said Gary Ciampanelli, senior safety specialist at AGH, where officials have been planning for the summit for two months. "Some people say it's going to be another Y2K. I think it's going to be somewhere in between."

At previous gatherings of world leaders, protesters held sometimes violent demonstrations. During a G-8 summit in Genoa in 2001, hundreds of police and demonstrators were injured when protesters pelted officers with rocks and other objects.

UPMC Mercy, Uptown, about a mile and a half from the convention center, and its sister hospital, UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, will establish a command center in the event of a major emergency, officials said.

Hospital-based command centers are standard practice during events in which many victims are expected. They allow workers from various departments to monitor the situation.

Officials at UPMC and the West Penn Allegheny Health System, of which Allegheny General is a part, have said their hospitals will be open to all patients even though it may not be business as usual.

UPMC, for example, encouraged some doctors to reschedule elective surgeries at its Oakland campus, so patients could avoid travel restrictions imposed in several parts of the city. Some procedures that are typically performed in Oakland have been rescheduled at satellite clinics, said UPMC spokeswoman Susan Manko.

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