Hospital Alerts

Hospital Alerts

September 11, 2017 - 9:00 a.m.

We will be hosting a call for South Carolina hospitals today at 3:00 p.m. to address any concerns or questions you may have.
 
Irma has now weakened to a tropical storm with winds up to 70 mph and is expected to further weaken as the storm continues to move inland. Irma is moving north-northwest at about 18 mph and is expected to continue on that path. The storm is then projected to move into Southern Georgia on Monday afternoon and move through Southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama into Tuesday.

A storm surge warning continues to be in place for the southern Low Country and areas of the South Carolina coast. The National Weather Service forecasts winds between 35 mph and 45 mph to begin this morning in the Charleston area. The strongest winds will impact the Charleston area through Monday afternoon, with tropical storm force winds and anticipated gusts to around 60 mph. There will also be a risk for tornadoes from the early afternoon into the early evening.  A flash flood warning is in place for Charleston as the area is expected to receive four to eight inches of rain and four to six feet in storm surge.

We continue to work with our coastal hospitals to coordinate information and resources, and will provide  more information on our 3:00 p.m. call. We look forward to speaking with you then.

If you have any questions related to reimbursement for evacuated patients, please contact Diane Paschal (dpaschal@scha.org, 803-609-6865). The updated Medicare-Fee-For-Service Emergency-Related Policies and Procedures may also be helpful

Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime via the SCHA disaster hotline (803-603-8580) or scdisaster@scha.org.  SCHA is standing by to help.

September 9, 2017 - 9:00 p.m.

We are less than 24 hours from landfall as Irma continues to track toward Florida.  Although the impact to SC is expected to be less than originally anticipated, several southern states will be impacted by the storm.  SCHA has been working with DHEC and FEMA to be sure we understand the federal processes in the event that SC is asked to assist other states needing to evacuate patients.  At this point, we have learned that it is the intention of each state to keep patients within their respective states for the storm. If there is significant damage or lack of resources for facilities to maintain their ability to shelter in place, states may request federal assistance in evacuating to neighboring states while infrastructure issues are addressed.  In preparation, FEMA and USDHHS are activating their resources to assist in cross-state evacuations if needed.   If Florida decides that patients need to be transported away from an impacted area and it requests federal assistance, the feds will follow a process established by the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to accomplish that goal. This process involves federal, state, and local resources working together to coordinate the movement of patients.  SCHA will work hand-in-hand with DHEC and FEMA should evacuations be needed.  As such, please continue to update SC SMARTT at 10:00 am and 10:00 pm daily. 

If you have any questions related to reimbursement for evacuated patients, please contact Diane Paschal (dpaschal@scha.org, 803-609-6865). The updated Medicare-Fee-For-Service Emergency-Related Policies and Procedures may also be helpful

September 8, 2017 - 6:00 p.m.

Hurricane Irma continues to track northwest and is expected to make landfall in southern Florida on Sunday with catastrophic winds and weaken as it moves over land through Georgia from Monday into Tuesday. South Carolina is still in jeopardy of heavy storm surge in the Low Country and extreme conditions for western areas of the state.

In his 2:00 p.m. press briefing, Governor McMaster rescinded the mandatory medical evacuation order for Horry, Georgetown, Berkeley, Dorchester and Charleston counties. However, the order remains in effect for Beaufort, Colleton and Jasper counties as emergency officials continue to track Irma’s impact on the Low Country. That executive order is attached for your review.

Based on our communications with DHEC, all requests submitted by hospitals to shelter-in-place have been granted.  If you submitted a shelter-in-place exemption and have not received a written confirmation of your request, please contact Melanie Matney or Morgan Bowne. SCHA staff will continue to monitor SCEMD calls throughout the weekend and monitor activities related to Hurricane Irma.

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we worked with state emergency officials to determine the best course of action for our member facilities.  We recognize that we have a continued challenge to educate new state leadership on the importance of allowing our hospitals the flexibility to shelter-in-place if you believe it is best for the patients and communities you serve. We plan to suspend SCHA updates and calls related to Hurricane Irma over the weekend, but the SCHA Disaster Preparedness Center will be available to field your questions and calls via the contact information below:

SCHA Disaster Email: scdisaster@scha.org
SCHA Disaster Hotline: 803-603-8580   

September 8, 2017 - 12:00 p.m.

We recognize that many of you are waiting on information for our call today and we want to provide definitive information when we do convene. For that reason, we have determined that an afternoon call will likely produce more clarity and answers as DHEC and SCEMD respond to the changing path of Hurricane Irma.

The most recent projections from the National Hurricane Center indicate that Hurricane Irma has moved west, reducing the portions of South Carolina in the storm’s cone of uncertainty. Hurricane Irma is still expected to impact portions of the Low Country, but the current path shows a reduced impact on the South Carolina coast. Please find the attached DHEC-approved list of hospitals in a designated evacuation zone. SCHA staff are currently located at the Agency Coordination Center (ACC) and working hand-in-hand with Health Regulations and state officials to assist hospitals with patient transfers and other resources.

As of 8:00 p.m. last night, SCHA has successfully aided in the transfer of patients from coastal hospitals, including Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center and Charleston Naval Hospital. We have communicated with Coastal Carolina Hospital and Hilton Head Hospital about their patient transfers, and are on standby to assist if needed. We’ve remained in constant contact with Williamsburg Regional Hospital, and at this point we have been advised that there is no need to evacuate patients from that facility. As far as we know, all of the hospitals that decided to evacuate have had their receiving hospitals identified and evacuations are underway.

We’ve been told unofficially that all requests for shelter-in-place exemptions will be granted for those facilities that requested them. SCHA is advising all hospitals that have requested a shelter-in-place exemption to be patient so Health Regulations can work through their process for a formal determination and notification around midday today. We will verify this information as soon as we receive confirmation from DHEC related to the shelter-in-place exemptions in a later update.

At this time, we are tentatively proposing an SCHA call at 3pm to follow-up on your requests for information and discuss potential next steps. It is our intention to confirm that call in the message we hope to send out soon confirming DHEC’s granting of your shelter-in-place request.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact the SCHA Disaster Preparedness Center via the contact information listed below if you have any questions or would like additional information:

SCHA Disaster Email: scdisaster@scha.org

SCHA Disaster Hotline: 803.603.8580   

We will reach out to you as soon as we confirm DHEC’s actions related to your shelter-in-place requests with information for our tentatively scheduled call at 3pm. We will also be following with information from CMS related to transfer billing and reimbursement for those facilities that transferred patients.

 

September 7, 2017 - 12:00 p.m.

SCHA will host a call with hospitals at 4:00 p.m. today to discuss preparations for Hurricane Irma

When a disaster is imminent, SCHA moves into high-gear alongside our partners to help facilities respond and recover from the disaster.
 
Once the discussions at SCDHEC begin regarding mandatory medical evacuation, you can expect the following to happen:

  • DHEC Health Regulations will contact your facility to determine your intent to request to shelter in place.  For Irma, you can also proactively reach out to Health Regulations by emailing acc-healthreg@dhec.sc.gov or by calling 800-833-0099.
  • Health Regulations will review your facility’s Critical Data Sheet, and you may be asked to provide additional information.  Factors impacting your request to shelter in place include, but are not limited to, wind load ratings of your roof/windows, location of generators (above/below flood level), building elevation, and timing of the storm.   
  • Facilities that are granted an exemption from the Mandatory Medical Evacuation Order prior to the issuance will be included in the Governor’s Order.  Facilities that are granted an exemption from the Order should ensure that they have appropriate supplies and staff to operate the facility independently at least 96 hours post storm.
  • If your request for an exemption to the Order was denied, your facility will need to evacuate.  Be sure to notify Health Regulations of any evacuations, closures, or re-openings.  Importantly, please note that if your facility evacuates and closes, you will need to contact Health Regulations regarding re-opening procedures.
  • For Irma, if a Mandatory Medical Evacuation Order is issued, SCHA will activate the Mutual Aid Agreement (MAA).  The CEOs and emergency managers of participating MAA facilities will be notified by email that the MAA is activated.  SCHA will request for you to email pertinent information listed in Article VII to scdisaster@scha.org.
  • SCHA and DHEC will work together to link evacuating hospitals with appropriate receiving hospitals.  We will communicate primarily with the CEOs and emergency managers.
  • Hospitals must work with each other to coordinate the actual transfer of patients.
  • If needs are identified by either facility, work with your Regional Healthcare Coalition to resolve the needs.  If your coalition cannot fulfill the need, the coalition will notify the appropriate regional coordination center or group for resolution.

 
If you are unsure about the process or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Morgan Bowne or Melanie Matney.

 

September 6, 2017 - 5:00 p.m.

Governor McMaster has declared a state of emergency as Irma heads toward Florida with models projecting the powerful storm could make its way to South Carolina. The storm could arrive early next week with the potential to be a catastrophic hurricane with winds stronger than 110 mph.

Thank you to everyone who was able to join us for the 2:00 p.m. call. We do not plan to host any additional calls throughout the storm unless deemed necessary. Instead, we will be working with SC DHEC and SCEMD to coordinate information for our member facilities. For those that missed the call today, we discussed the following actions you should be considering to prepare for Hurricane Irma:

Review

All SC hospitals should review their Critical Data Sheets in the event of an evacuation declaration and ensure they have comprehensive internal plans for evacuation, sheltering-in-place and critical staffing needs. Be sure your dash passes are up-to-date and distributed to critical hospital personnel who may need to travel to your facility.

Reach Out

Start contacting transportation providers, supply vendors and other partners and organizations you contract with whose services may be impacted by the storm. Be sure to update the SMARTT system to share critical information about the availability of your facility and contact the Regional Public Health Preparedness Director for your region to coordinate information:

Lowcountry – Raymond Barteet, 843-953-0062, barteere@dhec.sc.gov
Midlands – Karen Hutto, 803-576-2691, huttokg@dhec.sc.gov
Pee Dee – Mark Hendrix, 843-673-6546, henriml@dhec.sc.gov
Upstate – Warren Edwards, 864-372-3138, edwardjw@dhec.sc.gov

SCHA encourages those facilities that plan to shelter-in-place to send your request in writing to acc-healthreg@dhec.sc.gov with the subject "Shelter-In-Place Request" or you can call them tomorrow after 8:00 a.m. at 1-800-833-0099.

React

If a medical evacuation is declared, DHEC’s Health Regulations Department will look at shelter-in-place requests based on the severity of the storm. If it is determined that you must evacuate patients, be sure to include with the patient:

  •     Demographic sheet
  •     Medication record
  •     Health & physical examination
  •     Patient medications


You also may want to consider sending staff, but be sure to work out any details with the receiving hospital. At this time, there is no evacuation order, but officials from DHEC said on our call today that if an evacuation were ordered, hospitals would need to begin evacuating Thursday evening or Friday.


Additional Contacts

If you have any questions or would like any additional information related to your preparedness efforts, please contact Melanie Matney or Morgan Bowne with SCHA.

If you have questions related to your request to shelter-in-place, you may contact the SC DHEC Health Regulations Hotline at 1-800-833-0099 after 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

For immediate assistance, contact the SCHA Disaster Preparedness Center via the contact information listed here:

SCHA Disaster Email: scdisaster@scha.org
SCHA Disaster Hotline: 803-603-8580


September 6, 2017 - 10:45 a.m.

The initial 2017 hurricane forecast did not anticipate a heavier than normal storm season, but Hurricane Harvey has already set a new standard for devastation in the U.S. And now Hurricane Irma is setting records for Atlantic storms, with its massive size and 185 mph winds. The track of Irma is still unclear, but all communities that could possibly be affected must prepare for this intense storm.
 
Before Jimmy Walker retired earlier this year, Melanie Matney and Morgan Bowne assumed responsibility for leading SCHA's emergency preparedness efforts. Melanie and Morgan have been in constant communication with SC DHEC and the SC Emergency Management Division since the beginning of hurricane season in June, and they will begin leading statewide storm-related conversations today.
 
Here's the latest news you need to know:
 
As of the 8:00 a.m. update from the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Irma is tracking northeast toward Florida and the latest computer models project that Irma could move further east, threatening the Carolinas and East Coast. While the impact on South Carolina is not expected until early next week, we will host a call at 2:00 pm today to discuss preparations for Hurricane Irma.
 
At this point, DHEC and SCEMD are beginning to coordinate activities through the regional coalitions and state and local officials. As of now, the Lowcountry Regional Health Care Coalition has scheduled a brief conference call with healthcare facilities today at 12:15 p.m.

For more information on your Regional Healthcare Coalition, please contact the Regional Public Health Preparedness Director for your region:
 
Lowcountry – Raymond Barteet, 843-953-0062, barteere@dhec.sc.gov
Midlands – Karen Hutto, 803-576-2691, huttokg@dhec.sc.gov
Pee Dee – Mark Hendrix, 843-673-6546, henriml@dhec.sc.gov
Upstate – Warren Edwards, 864-372-3138, edwardjw@dhec.sc.gov
 
If you have any questions or would like any additional information related to your preparedness efforts, please contact Melanie Matney (MMatney@scha.org, 803-413-4915) or Morgan Bowne (MBowne@scha.org, 704-242-2380).
 
You may also contact the SCHA Disaster Preparedness Center via the contact information listed here:
SCHA Disaster Email: scdisaster@scha.org
SCHA Disaster Hotline: 803-603-8580
 
Thank you and we look forward to speaking with you at 2:00 p.m.

 

Updated: September 7, 2017