By Michele Pilon
Chief Executive Officer, Transylvania Regional Hospital
We associate patient care with hospitals, and there’s no question that our caregivers at Transylvania Regional Hospital (TRH) are laser-focused on our patients each and every day. There’s another type of caregiving that’s more “under the radar,” however. We attend to it constantly within the hospital, but it’s not obvious to patients, families, and visitors: emergency preparedness.
These are events that we don’t like to think about, but that unfortunately do happen, such as crimes committed by violent assailants or an accident, such as a chemical spill at a manufacturing plant. This topic is especially appropriate because September is National Preparedness Month, where communities and organizations assess their readiness for everything from natural disasters to intrusion-related events.
We executed an active assailant drill here at TRH recently. The planning that goes into a drill like this is meticulous. We partnered with all the community entities who would be involved if the situation was real: our own hospital security team, every hospital staff member, Transylvania County EMS, the Brevard Fire Department, and the Sheriff’s Department.
An important player in this initiative is our own emergency Department Manager and Emergency Management Coordinator Karlye Marburger, whose work focuses on ensuring that our patients and staff are safe at all times. She oversaw the planning and execution of the drill, in addition to working with all of the community partners.
Marburger shared important facts about the drill, which is supposed to be performed in as realistic a way as possible. “Aside from the drill itself, our facility already has safeguards in place to protect patients and staff,” noted Marburger.
We must also be ready for disasters like agricultural accidents – pesticide exposure, for example – and industrial accidents. Our new ED is equipped with a state-of-the-art decontamination room to meet these needs. It can hold two people, provides showers and other features, and opens to our parking lot so these patients can go through the decontamination process before entering any interior hospital space and risking the safety of patients and staff. A decontamination tent can also be set up that enables staff to accommodate 30 people per hour. “We’re constantly refining these programs to make them more robust,” said Marburger.
With important partnerships in place, safety drills, in-hospital technology, and education, TRH offers another level of care for patients, families, and staff: a strategic safety plan for unforeseen events. It’s all part of our daily and long-term investment in making TRH a hospital that’s designed and equipped to be a truly protective facility.
Michele Pilon, MS, BSN, RN, NE-BC, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital. Her diverse professional experience includes service as a bedside nurse and over a decade as a leader at healthcare institutions in Virginia, Florida and North Carolina. Ms. Pilon earned a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Ohio’s University of Akron and a Masters in Health Services Administration from the University of St. Francis in Illinois; she is also a Board-Certified Nursing Executive.