Whatever the weather, the focus remains the same.
As Hurricane Dorian approaches our region, a wide range of Tidelands Health team members are planning to shelter in place at the health system’s hospitals to support the community’s care needs.
All Tidelands Health hospitals, which were not included in the mandatory medical evacuation order issued by Gov. Henry McMaster Sunday evening, are expected to remain open during Dorian.
Caring for the community during a storm requires involvement from many different people, including physicians, nurses, technicians, support staff and more.
“It’s a tremendous team effort,” says Tidelands Health OB-GYN Dr. Gayle Richmond, chief of the health system’s medical staff. “We are all stepping up as a team.”
Hospital emergency departments are a front line of care, serving as a critical community support during natural disasters.
“We’ve been through this many times before, and we’ve learned from those experiences,” says Dr. William Richmond, an emergency medicine physician and director of emergency services at Tidelands Health. “We’re comfortable that we will be ready to handle any particular emergency that might show up.”
Also playing essential roles are many other teams that support the emergency department and provide care to patients admitted to the hospital. Included among them are cardiology, general and vascular surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, pulmonology, anesthesiology, hospital-based medicine and more.
Members from each of the teams will be available 24-7 during Dorian.
“While the ER is, of course, what you see when you walk in the door, behind the ER are dozens of other people representing all the specialties and departments there to provide services that are needed,” says Dr. Robert Whitehead III, a radiologist and director of radiology for the health system.
For example, radiologists and radiologic technologists will be standing by at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital and Tidelands Georgetown Memorial Hospital to perform CT scans, MRIs and other diagnostic imaging services during Dorian, says Dr. Whitehead.
Likewise, the health system’s digestive health team will be poised to assist patients with any gastrointestinal issues or emergencies that may arise, says Dr. Christopher Bach, a gastroenterologist and director of digestive health at Tidelands Health. Storm or not, people will need care for gastrointestinal bleeding and other conditions.
He says storms tend to bring care providers closer together to support each other and patients.
“I think people really come together to provide for the community, oftentimes putting their families second and putting caring for the community first,” says Dr. Bach. “That’s really amazing to see.
“It’s a commitment we signed up for – that we step up during storms or any sort of natural disaster.”
Also playing a vital role during storms are hospital-based physicians known as hospitalists – doctors who take a leading role caring for patients once they’ve been admitted to the hospital.
Dr. Michael Ratz, vice chief of the Tidelands Health medical staff and director of the health system’s hospital medicine program, says patients can expect the same level of high-quality care from the health system’s care team, including its hospital-based physicians, regardless of the forecast.
“We’re all in it for the same goal – taking care of our patients,” says Dr. Ratz, who is also a member of the Tidelands Health board of trustees. “Everyone knows what we’re in store for, and we’re ready for it.”