Ask Your Doctor: HOSPITALS AND HURRICANES

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:12

 

 

Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm with maximum sustained winds of over185 mph, has caused much damage in Anguilla, including damage to many health facilities, such as the Princess Alexandra Hospital, the island’s only 24-hour hospital. The question many are asking now is, how do we make our hospital safer, greener and more resilient to natural disasters like hurricanes in the future?

Role of hospitals during natural disasters
The Princess Alexandra Hospital is the only hospital operating 24 hours a day on the island and, as a result, plays a vital role in any natural disasters like a hurricane. Despite the severity of any disaster, the hospital must still be able to carry out various emergencies that will occur – and deal with health needs of the entire island. Our doctors, nurses and other health professionals must perform their duties despite the many challenges that will be associated with a natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma. All Anguilla should say thank you to all those healthcare professionals who worked at the hospital during and after the passage of Hurricane Irma. Caring for patients when the hospital’s roof is destroyed is dangerous and traumatic.

During a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma, hospitals often take on greater roles in the island. Immediately after the passage of the hurricane, the Princess Alexandra Hospital played an integral role within the healthcare system by providing essential medical care to the community as many of the clinics were damaged. Many of the clinics were damage resulting in a greater influx of patients. The facilities of many private doctors were also temporary closed following the Hurricane Irma. Private medical facilities gradually reopened helping to relieve the situation at the hospital.

All hospitals prepare their staff for natural disasters, but sometimes the challenges can be severe. Thankfully the staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital was up to the task, and the hospital continued to function despite the severe damage sustained to the facility. We must continue to prepare our health staff for natural and other disasters, and we must also take measures to protect the health and safety of staff and patients while providing the best quality care even during a disaster like Hurricane Irma.

The future
A hospital plays a crucial role in any disaster, especially a natural disaster like Hurricane Irma. The damage caused by Hurricane Irma to the Princess Alexandra Hospital was enormous. There is consensus that Anguilla needs a new hospital that will be better able to resist the ravages of natural disasters such as Hurricane Irma.

It is difficult to design a hospital to withstand the dynamic actions due to both high winds and strong ground shaking because the effects of their respective forces on building structures are markedly different. There are, however, well established cost?effective design and construction techniques that are available for reducing property losses due to these hazards.

Scientists predict that storms such as Hurricane Irma will become the norm rather than the exception in the years to come. Our new hospital, must also be user friendly, energy efficient, safe and must consider the future health needs of the island for the next fifty to one hundred years.

Our planners must continue planning for all disasters in the future and develop a well-documented and disaster management plan that will help to decrease the challenges encountered during Hurricane Irma.

Conclusion
The Princess Alexandra Hospital had a vital role to play in the aftermath of category 5 Hurricane Irma. Despite the tremendous damage sustained to the infrastructure of the hospital, healthcare staff carried out vital healthcare services and must be complemented. We must now focus on the future and seek to improve our healthcare system. For many, one key decision going forward is to have a new hospital that is more resistant to natural disasters while providing optimal healthcare to all.

Ask Your Doctor is a health education column and is not a substitute for medical advice from your physician. The reader should consult his or her physician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field are ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

Dr Brett Hodge MB BS DGO MRCOG, is an Obstetrician/Gynaecologist and Family Doctor who has over thirty-two years in clinical practice. Dr Hodge has a medical practice in The Johnson Building in The Valley (Tel: 264 4975828).

anguillian
By anguillian October 23, 2017 11:12

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