Disaster facilities available for area
LAFAYETTE — Acadiana’s regional hospitals organized a show-and-tell Wednesday of its newest tools to assist communities following a disaster — a mobile temporary morgue and a mobile hospital tent.
The resources, which were purchased jointly by Acadiana regional hospitals with federal grant funding made available for hospital preparedness, were placed on display Wednesday in the rear parking lot of Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center.
“We’ve done all this so we can provide care in the worst times,” said Anjanette Hebert, designated regional coordinator for hospital emergency preparedness.
The enclosed tent is designed for 20 beds and is powered with air conditioning and electricity via a generator.
Hebert said the tent is available to any hospital in the Acadiana region responding to a disaster or mass trauma.
The regional network and shared assets are especially needed in smaller communities, said Heather Cradeur, emergency preparedness coordinator for Acadia-St. Landry Hospital in Church Point.
“We’re a 30-bed hospital,” Cradeur said. “If something major happens in town, we’re going to be the beacon and an asset like this will help us respond to the community. We’re excited that we have this available to us.”
On Wednesday, it took a crew about an hour to assemble the tent, set up the generator and mobile air conditioning unit and wire lights and electrical cords, said Hebert, who is also the director of security for Lafayette General Medical Center.
The tent cost $120,000 and includes patient beds, caregiver bunk beds, linens and other supplies, air conditioning unit, generator and a trailer that can be used as a command center.
Last year, the regional coalition purchased a mobile mortuary unit called a Mortuary Enhanced Remains Cooler or MERC, which was seen as a need in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 where many areas were without power for long periods of time, Hebert said.
Hospitals have not had to deploy the MERC nor the mobile hospital tent yet, but the tent would have been useful in the Lafayette community’s response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita when the Cajundome served as a shelter, Hebert said. She said a makeshift clinic was set up inside the adjacent Cajundome Convention Center, and many patients needed help managing chronic illnesses, such as diabetes.
“Had we had an asset like this, we could have set it up in the parking lot and provided more privacy,” Hebert said.
The tents could serve in tandem with small trailers equipped as mobile medical clinics, Hebert said.
“When a disaster hits, people gravitate toward a hospital,” she said. “If we can draw them to something like this and provide low-level care, we can keep people out of the emergency rooms.”
Hebert said the coalition is devising other uses for the resources to expose the community to them so they’ll be more comfortable seeking the services following a disaster.
“Right now, we’re strategizing other uses, such as events where a first aid tent would be helpful to have,” Hebert said. “In New Orleans, they have three of these and they’ve used them along the Mardi Gras parade routes.”