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home : local news : local news June 28, 2016

2/24/2014 2:18:00 PM
Hospital looks into policies on safety, weather
Crawford Memorial Hospital is taking steps to make its patients, its community and its records safer.

The CMH board Wednesday heard a report from Safety Officer Jed Holt about efforts to prepare employees for dealing with an active shooter at the hospital or the use of a weapon of mass destruction in the community. He also talked about updating CMH's policy for dealing with severe winter weather.

Holt said the Safety Committee is looking into how to best respond to a gunman at the hospital and how to properly train employees. One step is to add a new "code" that, in the case of an active shooter, can be announced over the public address system to warn people to stay clear of where he is.

Meanwhile, the committee has run a tabletop simulation to determine how best to deal with a bomb going off at the public library. In the scenario, 10 pediatric patients were sent to the Emergency Room and staff had to perform triage and determine how to identify the injured.

The simulation helped the committee identify strengths and weaknesses and where to make improvements, Holt explained.

CMH has not had to worry about closing clinics or canceling patient services for several years, but this winter has changed that. "This year, of course, has been particularly bad," Holt said, explaining recent storms have prompted work to streamline the process for shutting down services.

In a related matter, Chief Nursing Officer Sandra Burtron pointed out CMH Home Health managed to continue its scheduled visits to patients during most of the recent bad weather. On only one day were nurses unable to go out to rural areas, and even then they were able to keep appointments in Robinson and Palestine.

The board also heard from Information Technology Tim Richards about the various methods used by his department to keep hospital and patient information safe from hackers, spyware, malware, viruses and other cyber threats.

Several layers of security, from a firewall and spam filters to file encryption and network segregation that keeps CMH's public web access separate from the rest of its network, are in place and regularly updated.

Chief Executive Officer Don Annis praised Richards' department for providing the "highest level of security" for patient files.

"We take this very seriously," he said.

The board also approved having an architect update the CMH masterplan. The plan, last updated seven years ago, covers all the construction and renovation plans the board hopes to accomplish over a period of several years.

One of the hospital's latest construction projects is nearly complete. Buildings and Grounds Committee Chairman Bob Kirk told the board the exterior of the new Oblong Rural Health Clinic should be finished next month.

Also Wednesday, the board learned that, because of January's wintry weather, CMH's earnings for the month were down. Gross revenues were $1 million under budget, Chief Financial Officer Rick Carlson said.

The hospital showed a profit, however, because it received $930,000 from the state's Hospital Access Improvement Program. This payment was actually years overdue.

Meanwhile, board members learned another government program CMH uses is under attack.

A federal program that allows hospitals to sell expensive prescription medications at cost to outpatients is among those that could be cut. Large pharmaceutical companies support ending the program which has saved CMH patients $311,000.

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