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Our Care

Our Disaster Response Keeps Us Prepared for Anything

January 08, 2020

How our disaster response helps our HCA Healthcare family care during times of adversity.

When Hurricane Dorian was threatening the east coast of Florida, our local leadership teams in that state, along with our corporate emergency operations team, were pulling all-nighters to ensure our disaster response supporting our patients and colleagues had the resources to remain safe while serving their communities. With dozens of our facilities in the storm’s predicted path, we anticipated at least some impact to our communities, colleagues and patients—and, as always, we were ready.

Michael Wargo, vice president of Enterprise Preparedness and Emergency Operations

“Caring for the victims of a tragedy is an essential community responsibility that hospitals and their physicians and nurses bear,” says Michael Wargo, vice president of Enterprise Preparedness and Emergency Operations. And it is one that is embraced by colleagues in all sites of care and at all levels—all year, every year.

“Our HCA Healthcare family is connected by a steadfast mission: Above all else, we are committed to the care and improvement of human life,” says chief executive officer Sam Hazen. “In the most difficult of moments, we see that commitment displayed in an even more pronounced way. I am often humbled by the dedication of our colleagues to serve our communities and each other in the midst of adversity.”

As we embark on a new year, we reflect on how our HCA Healthcare family has cared for others during the most difficult times such as Hurricane Dorian—and how we can elevate our humanitarianism in the future.

Experience As Teacher

With more than 180 hospitals across the enterprise, our family tree has many branches and deep roots. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, we realized as apart of our disaster response support, centralizing emergency resources could help us quickly respond and make it easier to circulate information and distribute supplies in the wake of disaster. This is why the Enterprise Emergency Operations Center (EEOC) was headquartered in Nashville and is at the ready 24/7/365, complete with a basement bunker filled with cutting-edge equipment and technology.

HCA Healthcare hospitals are also engaged in regional coalitions, which include our facilities, EMS providers, emergency management organizations, public health agencies and other community service organizations. They share information about what supplies, personnel and capabilities they can provide.

The final step in a disaster response says Michael, is looking at what went right—and what could have gone better. “Immediately following the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, our EEOC and our colleagues at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center—who cared for more than 200 victims—began compiling lessons learned,” he says. “Our hospitals must be prepared for the worst emerging scenarios and pray they never happen. But when they do, community cooperation made possible by communication, collaboration and coordination saves lives.”

What You Can Do

In moments of darkness, HCA Healthcare’s beliefs in service to others, giving back to the community and caring like family stand out like a beacon of hope. One way to help is through the HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, created in 2005 after hurricanes the previous year affected hundreds of our Florida colleagues and their families.

It’s a colleague-run and -supported 501(c)3 charity with a clear purpose: to help HCA Healthcare colleagues and their immediate families (or dependents) who are affected by financial hardship due to disaster, illness/injury, domestic violence, a loved one’s death or other dire circumstances. Today, the fund invites colleagues, vendors, affiliated physicians, patients and the general public to make tax-deductible donations—100% of which go directly to colleagues in need.

This year, we further extended our circle of caring beyond our facilities. After Hurricane Dorian took an unexpected turn, the EEOC shifted its attention from Florida to the Bahamas. Within a week, the Board of Directors of the Hope Fund approved a special resolution to help with evacuations, colleague travel, burial expenses and emergency supplies for dependent HCA Healthcare family members in the affected area.

Donating to the Cause

HCA Healthcare has committed to matching $250,000 in colleague donations to the Red Cross’s Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP), which helps the organization meet the needs of people affected by all kinds of disasters nationwide. We also support the Red Cross through a $500,000 contribution to the ADGP.

Along with hurricane relief aid, we’ve donated more than $1 million toward American Red Cross capital campaigns such as the Home Fire Campaign to encourage use of smoke detectors and “Together We Prepare” disaster training.