Womack maintained 24-hour care during Florence
By Womack Public Affairs SpecialistOctober 23, 2018
WOMACK ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, FORT BRAGG, N.C.-- The community of Fort Bragg was ravaged with torrential winds and heavy rain caused by Hurricane Florence Sept. 14.
The hurricane caused major shut downs and delays but the Soldiers and Civilians in the Womack Army Medical Center continued to run 24-hour operations throughout the tragedy.
Womack provides medical care to the largest Army installation in the world. It cares for more than 199, 000 TRICARE beneficiaries, (active duty, retirees and their families.)
In order to maintain optimal support during the storm, Womack leadership increased the staff and provided ad hoc sleeping quarters for the staff in the hospital to rest during the storm.
Laura Katalano, a registered nurse in the Womack Step Down Clinic, has been an RN for 26 years but this was her first experience in a hurricane.
The SDU provides intermediate-level of care for patients that are between the intensive care and general-medical surgical care in Womack.
The staff explained how they prepared before the hurricane by ensuring all of their supplies were up-to-date and they had enough to support the four patients plus anticipated patients .
Everyone in the hospital from the providers to the support staff pulled together to ensure continuous support was provided by relying on their culminated experiences and loyalty to the community.
Capt. Merwin Severtson, the Emergency Medical Services director, used experience from his team and previous training to maintain operations.
"You're being relied on to perform a function," said Severtson.
He explained his department increased the number of emergency vehicles available during the storm in order to ensure maximum support with minimal delay.
For Severtson, the training and experience from his staff was beneficial as he planned to adjust his resources in effort of the storm.
"A lot of the roads began to be impassable due to the flooding. We had to evaluate the routes to manage our resources in anticipation if we were going to be able to get there by ground or air."
Severtson and his crew prepositioned a portion of the EMS crew in areas he foresaw potentially being cut off. That decision allowed his crew to provide continuous support to the community.
Womack provided continuous support to patients affected during the hurricane as well as patients that were already admitted.
One of the SDU patients was worried about his family during the hurricane and the staff provided comfort to him by calling a family member to be by his side during the storm.
"Working in the profession, you're expected to put mission first," said Shakeiah Burch, a RN in the Womack SDU. "I brought in my son and we spent three days here at the hospital. We had food in the cafeteria and designated sleep areas. We all came together to support one another during the storm."
While the hospital staff was working 24-hour operations to provide care, some were also going through their own personal tragedies.
Burch and Katalano received damage to their property and they all left behind their own families to weather the storm on their own.
"Keeping in touch with my husband and grandchildren through Zello made thing a little easier," said Katalano. "We are loyal to our Womack community. I've never been asked to go to a foreign country, so I think two nights supporting them will be ok."
There was no degradation in the mission during the hurricane; every mission was a success. Misty Hummel, the chief of emergency medical services touts that is was the powerful dynamics of the rock solid team that was able to pull this off.
- June 3, 2020W.Va. Guard holds exercise to prepare for simultaneous missions
- June 3, 2020National Guard force surpasses Hurricane Katrina response
- June 2, 2020Testing out the tech
- June 2, 2020Puerto Rico National Guard ready for 2020 hurricane season
- June 1, 2020DOD launches effort to collect 8,000 units of COVID-19 convalescent plasma
- June 1, 2020Camp Zama medical translator pays it forward, assists English-speaking patients in Japan
- June 1, 2020Carson adapts as pandemic response evolves
- May 30, 2020Putting talent to work
- May 30, 2020Corps completes 100-bed alternate care facility in Kalispell, Montana
- May 29, 2020Hurricane preparedness saves lives
- May 28, 2020Accessing care during COVID-19 Pandemic: Madigan’s Department of Internal Medicine message to patients
- May 27, 2020Altered: Dental staff continues mission, overcoming fear of COVID-19
- May 26, 2020WHINSEC Honors Command & General Staff Officer Course Students
- May 26, 2020Chief of staff foresees greater Army commitment in Indo-Pacific
- May 20, 202021st WMD-CST test PPE to protect Guard, medical staff
- May 18, 2020NETCOM CHIEF OF STAFF RETIRES