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Morrow County Healthcare Coalition holds first meeting at the Morrow County 911 Center.

Story and Photos By Donna Carver

February 11, 2014

On January 23, 2014 the Morrow County Healthcare Coalition met for the first time at the 911 Center on Main Street in Mount Gilead.


The Morrow County Healthcare Coalition is a collaboration of multiple agencies, a coordinated group of healthcare organizations and other response partners and individuals who will work together to assist with mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery planning and activities related to healthcare disaster operation.


Representatives from a variety of traditional healthcare agencies and nontraditional partners met to discuss the new coalition and what it means for Morrow County.


Partners for the coalition include hospitals, emergency management, public health, local government, law enforcement, fire departments, long term health centers, Home health agencies, mental and behavioral health agencies, community services pharmacies, medical examiners, the American Red Cross, urgent care centers, dialysis centers, veterans serves etc.


“This is an enormous undertaking and it is overwhelming” noted Morrow County Health Department Commissioner Angela Smith. She continued, “Working together, sharing our knowledge, resources, participating in required trainings together makes this less overwhelming and less expensive for all including personnel time.”


The Morrow County Healthcare Coalition will consolidate and collaborate in unified response emergencies affecting our area. When disaster strikes organizations do not respond alone therefore the need to plan together is imperative.


“The community wide response planning process will make us aware of priority risks, our response capabilities individually and as a community, preparedness level, exercise and training participation.” said Smith.


The Morrow County Emergency Management Agency, Morrow County Hospital and the Morrow County Health Department jointly wrote a proposal for a grant to be able to fund these activities and the resources they provide.


“We have to be thinking about what is essential and what is optional and how do we continue those services to meet the needs of patients, clients, residents and participants during disasters and emergencies.” explained Smith.


The advantages of having a healthcare coalition are access to regional information sharing via the Central Ohio Healthcare Disaster Information Management System and increased access to funding opportunities.


Joe Edwards, Morrow County Emergency Management Director has been the director for 18 years. He has a background in law enforcement and military experience. He has handled a number of disasters over the years. Edwards discussed the various parts of emergency planning.


“You are sitting in the center of the emergency operation center.” Edwards told attendees. “Everything basically goes on here.” He noted that every year they do a variety of trainings including a hazmat exercise, exercises with CSX railroad, bomb threats training and several exercises at Mid-Ohio race track.


Megan Kibler, emergency preparedness coordinator for Morrow County Hospital stressed that although each agency has their own regulations the big push for all of the agencies to work together has come over the last several years. “Morrow County is the best county because we have already been working together for many years and have not had any trouble like some of the other counties have had.” She shared that the hospital has two exercises every year.


Kelly Hand public information officer for the health department discussed her role as the Morrow County MRC coordinator. MRC is the Medical Reserve Corps, a national program with a local community based emphasis. Its mission is to support community efforts to utilize local medical and non-medical volunteers during emergencies and other times of community need.


In August of 2010 the Morrow County Reserve Corps was recognized under the FEMA umbrella. MRC members are a pool of pre identified credentialed and trained volunteers that supplement ongoing and emergent health activities. “We currently have 56 members enrolled.” Said Hand, “they include doctors, nurses, veterinarians, pharmacists and elected officials, some are students and some are retirees. We assist in disasters but are not first responders.” explained Hand. The goal is to supplement the work of the first responders. Having volunteers documented and keeping track of credentials, licensure, training etc. ahead of time we are able to utilize professional skills sets and offer additional liability coverage.


Hand explained that in case of a need to get a prophylactic medication to every resident in the county, such as a biological threat or disease, it would take 260 people 24 hours to distribute the needed medication. “The 56 people we have in our corps is great but it isn’t the 260 people we need that are pre-credentialed. “ She requested that people who are interested to please sign up.


Capt. Travis Ries discussed the special needs registry. The coalition requested that the various agencies work with those they serve to get registered into the system so that they know there is a special need in case of a disaster. The special needs registry program is designed for those who have special physical , medical, mental or special assistance needs in the event of an emergency or disaster.


Zach Wolfe EMS training officer and Capt. Travis Ries gave attendees a tour of the 911 Center.


For more information on the healthcare coalition or to sign up for the MRC contact the Health department at 419-947-1545 or email mchdpip@odh.ohio.gov.


For questions or additional information on the special needs registry contact Capt. Travis Ries at specialneeds@mcems.net or visit th website http://mcems.net and click on special needs registry.


The next proposed meeting for the group will be in April.