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Local Health Professionals Test Their Ability to Transform an Exhibition Hall into an Alternative Care Facility

The goal of Public Health – Seattle & King County and the King County Healthcare Coalition’s full-scale exercise was to test the area’s ability to coordinate and run an Alternate Care Facility.
Local Health Professionals Test Their Ability to Transform an Exhibition Hall into an Alternative Care Facility

All photos from Tuesday's Alternate Care Facility exercise.

September 24, 2010

In a significant regional disaster, the community’s medical needs may overwhelm the local health care system. For this reason, on Tuesday, September 14, Public Health – Seattle & King County and the King County Healthcare Coalition filled the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall with 150 medical cots and medical stations. It is called an Alternate Care Facility, and it’s designed to handle increased medical needs during an emergency.

The goal of Tuesday’s full-scale exercise was to test the area’s ability to coordinate and run an Alternate Care Facility. The exercise was coordinated by Public Health – Seattle & King County and the King County Healthcare Coalition and involved much of their staffing, as well as regional response partners and volunteers from the Public Health Reserve Corps, including two faculty members from the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice.

”It was an excellent opportunity to exercise the pharmacy services operational plan for alternative care facilities to identify what procedures and practices worked well and identified areas for improvement,” said Dr. Andy Stergachis, NWCPHP faculty member who participated in the exercise by volunteering his skills as a pharmacist through his membership in the Public Health Reserve Corps.

The Seattle Center Exhibition Hall is one of several locations across King County that could be activated as an emergency health care center during a disaster. During the exercise, participants were included who pretended to be patients and Alternate Care Facility Exercisereceived care. Regional partners also participated, including the Seattle Fire Department, Seattle Police Department, Seattle Center Emergency Management, and the Red Cross. Media had access to the facility, just as if it were a real emergency.

“Overall, it seemed to be a very successful event,” said Dr. Bud Nicola, NWCPHP faculty member and King County Board of Health member who volunteered as a physician through the Public Health Reserve Corps. “The exercise demonstrated the area’s ability to host an Alternate Care Facility in the face of an emergency and clarified our processes. We discovered a number of missing essentials and needed changes before we do this ‘for real’ in an emergency.”

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