South Georgia hospital prepared for storm - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

South Georgia hospital prepared for storm

October 5, 2005

Albany- Hurricane Katrina caused the health care industry to re-evaluate how prepared they are to deal with disasters. Leaders at Phoebe Putney Hospital believe they're unique because they don't just back-up vital services, they back up their entire operation.

What's inside this building can support Phoebe's entire campus if necessary. The hospital has 10 generators that can create 12 and a half million watts of power, enough to power 350 average homes.

"We buy prime generators, not standby and we utilize those type generators to serve entire building loads instead of just emergency electrical loads," said David Paul, Phoebe Director of Operations.

So, if faced with a storm like Katrina or a summer black out, they say the hospital could continue to operate.

"We can loose 100 percent of Water, Gas, and Light's feed to us and never disrupt services whatsoever," said Paul.

In fact, if Albany's system is stressed they can run the hospital on the generators to ease the load for Water, Gas, and Light. The hospital stores more than 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel in underground tanks, enough to power the generators for four days.

"We constantly monitor the hurricanes that could come whether they be from the Atlantic or from the Gulf, and we watch them regularly," said John Fischer, Phoebe Sr. V.P. Operations.

Right now, the hospital is watching Tropical Storm Tammy. Storms like Katrina taught health systems to think about their supplies and how they could get more. Phoebe's supplier Owens and Minor has access to the hospital from many different directions.

"They have regional warehouses one in Atlanta, one in Tallahassee, one in Orlando, one in Birmingham and so that gives them the ability to supply us from multiple different routes," said Fischer.

And while, Phoebe keeps enough medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to last between three days and a week, they know if bad weather is headed for Albany it's better to stock up than be caught off guard.

Phoebe also has long-range two way radios but is considering buying a satellite phone to help if communications were knocked out.

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