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Harris Methodist Hospitals and Texas Health Resources Unveil the First Portable Inflatable Surge Capacity Unit in the Nation
12/15/2006

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Internet, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Humvees are examples of military tools and technology transitioned from the military world that now benefit civilian life. The military's famous portable surge hospitals, or MASH units, are making a similar debut. Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital (HMFW) and Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital (HMNW), part of the Texas Health Resources System (THR), will be the first hospitals in the nation to privately own a non-military inflatable, portable surge capacity unit.

Designed to supplement an existing hospital in the case of an emergency, this civilian portable surge capacity unit will be used exclusively for emergency needs such as: mass casualty events, quarantining patients with an infectious agent or communicable disease, bioterrorism or terrorist attack or a pandemic flu outbreak, an issue recently gaining public and medical community attention.

A Gift to Benefit the Community
Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital and Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital received a federal grant from Congresswoman Kay Granger for $441,929 to support hospital bioterrorism initiatives. HMFW, HMNW and THR saw the benefit of investing this grant in a portable surge capacity unit to supplement the hospital during a crisis. Texas Health Resources' 13 hospitals contributed an additional $235,580 of federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant monies to support the project. Each hospital in the system receives HRSA dollars annually for emergency preparedness.

“The opportunity to mobilize medical care and increase isolation capacity is the most difficult of the many critical benchmarks outlined by HRSA for hospitals participating in the federal grant program,” said Dinah Cannefax, director of emergency preparedness and safety at Texas Health Resources. “We are proud to have reached a major milestone in hospital preparedness.”

A large step towards being prepared is having the technology and resources that the new inflatable, portable surge capacity unit provides. The 2,700 square-foot unit is equipped with:

  • 26 medical/surgical beds
  • 10 triage beds
  • Four intensive care unit beds
  • Negative pressure air-flow, providing isolation wards for patients who have infectious or communicable diseases
  • Insulated siding and climate controlled temperatures inside the unit
  • Self-sustained generators for inflation and electrical capacity for medical equipment

The back-log of patients that health care facilities in Louisiana and Texas experienced during Hurricane Katrina and Rita further encouraged Harris Methodist Hospitals and Texas Health Resources to invest in the ability to 'surge-in-place.' This provides extra capacity for the hospital to triage and treat large numbers of patients near the hospital if a mass casualty incident occurred.

“Disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Rita taught us a tremendous amount about having contingency plans to care for large numbers of patients from neighboring states as well as how to treat those in our own back yard,” said Barclay E. Berdan, president of Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital and executive vice president of Texas Health Resources. “We hope we will never have to use the portable surge capacity unit, but we can take comfort knowing it is here if it is needed. In fact, the benefit of the surge capacity unit may extend beyond our immediate area to provide a safety net to the numerous North Texas communities that Texas Health Resources serves.”

A Leader in Emergency Preparedness
In 2003, a Homeland Security Presidential Directive defined hospitals as first responders for all community and national emergencies or mass casualty events. Harris Methodist Hospitals and Texas Health Resources were already responding to this directive. Specifically, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital, a Level II trauma center, and the City of Fort Worth have a history of working together on emergency management and crisis communication plans. The city's first responders have partnered with HMFW to train in decontamination and share best practices in emergency response. This close alliance will continue through the training, deployment and operation of the new portable surge capacity unit.

“We will rely heavily on the relationships we have with the city to assist in the planning, communication and coordination of emergency resources as we train our teams how to use the surge capacity unit in an actual crisis,” said Lillie Biggins, vice president of operations at Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital. “I am proud to be part of a hospital and a community that is stepping-out and leading emergency preparedness efforts across North Texas, our state and our nation.”

About Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital
Opened in 1930, Harris Methodist Fort Worth Hospital is a Magnet-designated hospital, and Tarrant County's largest and busiest hospital and regional referral center. A member of Texas Health Resources, HMFW is licensed for 710 beds and provides the following services: cardiovascular; high risk and routine obstetrics and gynecology; neurosciences; orthopedics and sports medicine; rehabilitation; adult critical care and neonatal intensive care; trauma and emergency medicine; cancer care; medical/surgical; kidney transplants; occupational health; and more. The campus is home to almost 1,000 members of the medical staff, more than 4,000 employees, 200 volunteers and the new state-of-the-art 100-bed Harris Methodist Heart Center. For more information, please call 1-888-4-HARRIS, or visit www.TexasHealth.org/HMFW.

About Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital Harris Methodist Northwest Hospital, a member of Texas Health Resources, serves Azle, Springtown, Lake Worth and greater northwest Tarrant County and Parker County. Founded in 1954, the hospital has 100 physicians practicing on its medical staff and offers a wide range of services including cardiology, orthopedics, surgery, gastroenterology, imaging and outpatient and sports rehabilitation. For more information, call 1-888-4-HARRIS. For more information, visit www.TexasHealth.org/HMNW.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health care delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. THR controls 13 affiliated hospitals and a medical research organization, and is a corporate member or partner in seven additional hospitals and surgery centers. THR's family of hospitals includes Harris Methodist Hospitals, Arlington Memorial Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare System. For more information about Texas Health Resources, visit http://www.texashealth.org/.

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