Hospitals Prep to Treat Protesters and Delegates at Upcoming Conventions

Hospitals are forbidding staff vacations and prepping emergency plans.

July 13, 2016, 3:05 PM
PHOTO: University Hospitals Case Medical Center has been preparing for the Republican National Convention for months.
University Hospitals Case Medical Center has been preparing for the Republican National Convention for months.
UH Case Medical Center

— -- With thousands of people expected to pour into the cities of Cleveland and Philadelphia for the upcoming Republican and Democratic conventions, hospital health officials are prepping for any kind of medical emergency, both large and small.

In Cleveland, the three major health systems have been working out a coordination plan to ensure they can handle a mass casualty event and also everyday medical needs like helping a delegate get prescription drugs they forgot.

Dr. Michael Anderson, Chief Medical Officer University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, told ABC News a hotline is being set up so all attendees can get easy access to medical help. He said if people need help getting medication or finding an urgent care center they can call the number. Additionally at the hospital -- one of two Level-1 trauma centers in the city -- the staff has been prepping for over a year to handle various crises.

"We said no vacation for trauma surgeons," that week, Anderson said. In case of a mass casualty event, Anderson said the health system would be able to quickly accommodate multiple patients.

He said all staff have been warned to "have your cellphone, have a full tank of gas," in case of emergency.

Anderson also said they've been consulting with experts about how to treat tear gas or pepper spray injuries if needed. He pointed out that all hospitals in the region must have enough supplies to be self-sufficient for 72 hours in case of emergency.

At Cleveland Clinic, officials have put into place 200 surge plans in place to address everything from an increased number of dehydration cases to mass disaster responses.

"We’ve been planning for this for the past year-and-a-half in concert with the other health systems here in Cleveland," a spokeswoman for Cleveland Clinic told ABC News in a statement. "We have done numerous drills in preparation for the upcoming convention with the city of Cleveland and others."

MetroHealth System, which runs the other Level-1 trauma center in Cleveland, said they expedited construction on a new ICU center to ensure they had extra beds before the convention and all staff are expected to be ready to respond.

"We have been preparing for a while and will be adequately staffed," Hospital spokeswoman Tina Arundel told ABC News. "There are no vacations and people are expected to be here."

Hospital team members also take part in FEMA training regularly in order to prepare for large-scale events.

"They learned how information flows, who makes what decisions when coordinating with cities, counties, etc. and even went through full scale exercises," at the training, a Arundel told ABC News.

In Philadelphia, officials said past events like the papal visit have helped them prep for the upcoming influx of visitors.

Mark Ross, Regional Manager of Emergency Preparedness for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said they have planning for the Democratic National Convention for months.

"This is a big city, we do big events, we’ve had a few recently here with the papal visit and the unfortunate events around Amtrak 188," said Ross. "We routinely meet plan, exercise, and coordinate between healthcare and all our other partners in emergency management, law enforcement, fire, EMS."

Tom Runkle, Associate Administrator at Hahnemann University Hospital, administrators have been prepping different responses for a variety of disaster events.

"We have an administrative team that will be on standby that week and will be on call in the event something occurs," said Runkle. "If we have large crowds we’re expecting to see a lot of dehydration, heat exhaustion, so we’re stocked up with cases of bottled water that we’ll have available. We have 150 cases of bottled water."

In case of a major event the medical staff has been going through multiple drills to prepare.

"We normally do seven to nine drills a year," he said. "We just change the scenarios to kind of reflect what’s going on in the environment. We just did a mass casualty drill three weeks ago."

Dr. Mary Carr is a general surgery resident at the University of Colorado. She is a medical resident in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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