Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hospital Readies for the Aftermath; Trauma Unit Typically Sees Rooftop Falls, Other Injuries

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hospital Readies for the Aftermath; Trauma Unit Typically Sees Rooftop Falls, Other Injuries

Article excerpt

Byline: Benjamin Conarck

As Hurricane Matthew churned along the east coast of Florida toward Jacksonville on Friday morning, the city's "safety net" hospital lay quiet in waiting.

Much of the activity at UF Health Jacksonville went down in the "incident command center," where emergency preparedness officials coordinated the hospital's staff between check-ins with state and city officials on three-hour intervals.

But hardly anyone was roaming the waiting areas, the emergency room and the trauma unit. The nurses there cautioned that most people get hurt after the storm, not during it.

"We're predicting the aftermath to be much more busy," said Kelly McIntosh, a trauma unit nurse.

Post-hurricane activity in the trauma unit usually comes from rooftop falls and other clean-up related injuries, she said: "People will be anxious to go out and do something."

The trauma unit saw "steady traffic" on Thursday, nurses said, mostly due to car accidents. But there were also some "preparatory accidents" - one man fell off his roof while boarding up his house, and a boy got kicked in the chest by a neighbor's horse when he was sheltering the animal, the nurses said.

Inside the incident command center, Jennifer Silvey, the hospital's emergency preparedness coordinator, mixed orange and cranberry juices together and shook the beverage up in a bottle. Running on low sleep, but noticeably upbeat, Silvey called the cocktail her "natural energizer."

Silvey said the hospital has been preparing for the storm for a week. There were multiple plans in place, and so far all of them were executed without any hitches.

"Everybody here knows their job," Silvey said. "The staff is coming together as a family."

One of the heads of that family, Chief Operating Officer Greg Miller, said the hospital and the city learned important lessons from Hurricane Floyd, which hit in September 1999. …

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