LMH board reviews tornado preparations, kitchen remodel plans

At Wednesday morning's Lawrence Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees monthly meeting, a new board member joined, an old board member left, the plans for the kitchen remodel were unveiled, the hospital's benefits to the community in 2010 were reviewed, and, in reaction to the devastating tornado that destroyed a hospital in Joplin, the staff discussed what would happen if, heaven forbid, a tornado hit LMH.

And, consultant David Schuh, with Larson Allen, went into great detail about yet another aspect of health care reform. His presentation is part of the hospital board's long-term effort to prepare for the big changes anticipated as a result of the U.S. Affordable Health Care Act, said Janice Early, director of community relations. Larson Allen -- a group of accountants, consultants and advisors -- helped the hospital with its long-range financial planning, and is now continuing with preparing for the changes sure to come in 2014, when the bulk of the act's mandates go into effect. (We'll look into more details about that in a later post.) It was, as usual, a busy meeting.

Rob Chestnut, former city commissioner and mayor of Lawrence, is the new board member. He was voted in on Tuesday night, and this was his first meeting. Since employees can't be board members, this was the last board meeting for Dr. Greg Schnose, whose Internal Medicine Group was purchased by LMH.

The kitchen remodel is scheduled to begin July 5. The kitchen and dining room will close on July 15 for the six-month remodel. A 40-foot by 40-foot kitchen trailer will be hauled in next week to serve 300 patient meals a day. It will take three days to set up, said LMH vice president Jeff Novorr, and the kitchen staff will do some test runs to make sure everything works before they close the kitchen and switch over to the temporary service.

For staff and visitors, the hospital has arranged meals from Lawrence Originals. So far, nine Lawrence restaurants have signed up to sell meals on a rotating schedule. Each day, two restaurants will be responsible for 500 lunches and 100 dinners. "We've been working with them to keep the cost to five dollars per meal," said Novorr. The restaurants will also cater the hospital's special events. (Toward the end of this month, we'll be providing an inside look at the temporary kitchen trailer operation and the Lawrence Originals meals.)

After the tornado destroyed a Joplin hospital, Gene Meyer, LMH chief executive officer, sent an email to Dana Hale, vice president of nursing, to ask: Are we prepared? Yes, said Hale, and related the recent experience, before the Joplin tornado, when Lawrence came under a tornado warning and sirens went off in parts of town. When the staff was given the word, they followed an emergency plan, which they had used in practice drills. They drew curtains and blinds across windows. They moved patients to interior hallways and conference rooms or below ground. Elevators were stopped and secured so that no one could use them.

During severe weather, a nursing supervisor keeps track of the storms and where the warnings are to determine how and when the hospital staff should react, said Early. "That's what Joplin did, too," she noted. "They had five minutes warning."

The biggest challenge are the critical care patients in the ICU, where the Joplin hospital had deaths. "Patients on ventilators can't really be moved far," said Hale. They were scooted as far away from windows as possible, and covered with pillows and blankets to protect them from any flying debris.

Hale said that, based on an email she received from a nurse at the Joplin hospital, she was now advising LMH nurses to grab wallet or purse, and shoes for each patient they move.

Novorr described how, if a hospital is damaged by a tornado or earthquake, the event triggers an automated response from area hospitals, which provide information on the number of beds available.

After Katrina, staff from hospitals affected by the hurricane did a tour through the U.S. to provide lessons-learned to other hospitals, said LMH chief operating officer Karen Shumate. She expects some staff from Joplin to do the same, and the LMH staff will attend any presentations to learn as much as they can.

To wrap up the meeting, Early presented a summary of the hospital's community benefits activities for 2010. Because LMH is a nonprofit community hospital, it provides services to the community such as free and low-cost education for professionals, expert medical care, and community education. In 2010, for example, 2,000 women participated in breast-feeding classes, and more than 100 in postpartum depression classes. It provided expert care for patients at Health Care Access, which provides medical services for people who don't have insurance and can't afford medical care. It did 1,600 car-seat inspections. In all, the donated care and classes amounted to $6.3 million. The bulk of that amount -- $5.7 million -- went to charity care and the unpaid cost of Medicaid, but not bad debts and the unpaid cost of Medicare.

Tagged: Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Comments

Bob Harvey 3 years, 6 months ago

Interesting reports on the day's events at LMH. Just a quick comment. I believe the VP of Nursing is Dana Hale, not Hull.

jestevens 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes, you are so right. My apologies!! I fixed it. Thanks for the heads up.

Belinda Rehmer 3 years, 6 months ago

Pleiku, you are correct. It is Dana Hale. Sounds like another full board meeting!

akt2 3 years, 6 months ago

How many staff members are available on an average per shift, per unit to respond to a 5 minute warning? Second and third shift especially. Average census?

Janice Early-Weas 3 years, 6 months ago

With only a five-minute warning it would be impossible to safely move all patients. Staff work as best they can to respond according to established emergency procedures, which in the case of a tornado warning would include closing blinds and curtains and moving patients to interior hallways and lower levels of the building if feasible. The number of staff available to assist with patient transportation depends on the unit, census and patient acuity levels and that can vary greatly.

Marilyn Hull 3 years, 6 months ago

Belinda:

Will the new kitchen design have any features that will encourage patrons to make heathy food and beverage choices?

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