By Becky Carter
Chief Executive Officer/Chief Nursing Officer, Blue Ridge Regional Hospital
November is traditionally a time when we reflect on all we have to be grateful for. I’d like to take the opportunity to extend a huge “thank you” to the extraordinary staff of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital. They should be recognized for so many things: caring for the members of our community, coming in to the hospital no matter the weather or hour, maintaining our facility, cleaning our hospital, and preparing sustenance for our patients, their families, and our staff. Without every team member, we wouldn’t be able to provide the care and comfort that define us.
You never know when a community crisis will occur and an “all hands on deck” approach will be necessary in a hospital. To prepare for such events, we have a plan, a notification system, and we practice responding to various scenarios. Two recent mass casualty events made the expertise, coordination, and dedication of our teams really hit home. A “mass casualty” event is one in which there is an accident with many victims, typically more than one hospital’s ER resources can handle. BRRH responded to these two events within the same week in the last few months, something I’ve never seen in my entire career.
One involved an accident in which a bus that was transporting a regional high school volleyball team wrecked and tumbled down a steep embankment. Fourteen volleyball players and their coaches were injured and had to be transported to several local hospitals, including ours. One patient was even airlifted to Mission Hospital. The accident was a late night event and with very little warning, our team was assembled and ready to provide advanced treatment to these accident victims.
The second event was when a gas leak in one of the dormitories at an area college occurred. The dorm had to be evacuated and every one of those college students had to receive medical treatment. Again, these patients were split up and cared for at different hospitals in Boone and Newland, North Carolina, and here at BRRH. Our emergency response plan was again initiated and hospital team members were called in the middle of the night to come in and care for these patients.
In both events, team members from across the organization responded. Staff came in to help, even though they could have stayed home on stand-by.
Our automated system alerts all who are needed about emergencies like these, and we have an extensive manual that details mass casualty emergency protocol; we also regularly perform drills and all hospital team members participate. Though having these safeguards in place is critical, none of it matters if no one shows up to address the emergency situation. I marvel at the fact that during these and all other similar events, our wonderful physicians, nurses, environmental services team members, food services staff, and housekeeping department members do show up – always without complaint, because this is where they want to be, and you are who they want to care for.
I salute our incredible BRRH team now and throughout the year. They’re consistently tested, and they always shine. Be assured that their commitment is as real as real gets. This should make you feel safe as a member of this community and if you ever find yourself at BRRH for any reason as a patient or loved one, know that our aim is to comfort and treat you in every way possible.
Rebecca W. Carter, MSN, RN, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine. Carter has served in senior hospital management for over 20 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, also a part of the Mission Health system.
Ms. Carter is board certified in healthcare management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE). A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Carter is currently a resident of Burnsville.