OSF HealthCare invests in peace of mind for its communities

For OSF HealthCare facilities, there is no margin for error when a disaster strikes. A hospital simply cannot fail when its community needs care the most.

That’s why OSF HealthCare invests so much time and so many resources making sure the people it serves will always be able to rely on their local hospital. The disaster preparedness team for OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria is a perfect example of the lengths to which OSF HealthCare goes to make sure all of its communities can rest easy.

Back-up plans for back-up plans for back-up plans

Basically, the disaster preparedness office is responsible for making sure the medical center continues to operate as a medical center no matter what happens. “Any disaster that might occur and create more patients for OSF HealthCare Saint Francis – the medical center has to be able to expand and contract,” said Troy Erbentraut, manager of the OSF HealthCare Saint Francis disaster preparedness team.

The disaster preparedness office develops plans, policies, procedures, education and training, and then tests all of them to make sure OSF HealthCare Saint Francis can continue to serve our community when disasters happen. Tornados, blizzards, earthquakes, floods, ice storms, terrorist attacks – OSF HealthCare Saint Francis has plans to handle them all, thanks to the work of Erbentraut and his team.

“We don’t want to change our care model because of a crisis,” Erbentraut said. “We want to provide the same level of care, whether it’s a sunny day or if the community is facing a huge crisis. No matter what, we’re still treating patients with the greatest care and love.”

Erbentraut’s team doesn’t just plan for external crises, either. The disaster preparedness team also plans for potential internal crises at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis. If the medical center were to lose power, or water, for example, his team creates plans to make sure the medical center can continue to function and provide the vital health services on which the community depends.

The team plans out where and how to obtain secondary resources quickly, and if those should fail, there’s a plan to provide tertiary resources, and so on. They create back-up plans for their back-up plans for their back-up plans, test those plans and train Mission Partners on how to execute those plans.

“There is a cost to being a prepared organization but OSF HealthCare sees value in it,” Erbentraut said. “The value to the community is peace of mind, knowing we will be ready if the time comes.”

A never-ending task

The disaster preparedness team doesn’t just create a plan, then stick it on a shelf and forget about it while it collects dust. Erbentraut and his team work constantly to keep disaster preparedness in the conversation at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis.

When it comes to an organization as large and diverse as OSF HealthCare Saint Francis, there are a lot of moving parts that are always changing. For the disaster preparedness team, this means the work is never done.

“Needs change as communities grow and evolve, and OSF HealthCare grows and evolves, so our disaster preparedness plans need to grow and evolve, too,” Erbentraut said. “That means continuously updating plans, and constantly providing new training for Mission Partners to execute those plans.”

About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.

He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.

In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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