Clermont Mercy Hospital holds emergency decontamination drill

Hospital workers practice emergency decontamination procedures during a training exercise.

Hospital workers practice emergency decontamination procedures during a training exercise.
By Jordan Puckett
Sun staff

Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital held an emergency hazardous materials patient decontamination drill May 22. A yellow decontamination tent was set up outside the emergency department entrance. Patients were wheeled into the tent on gurneys and treated as if they had been exposed to a dangerous substance. Miami Township Fire was present, as well as officials from Central Joint Fire Department.

“We do this training so we can be prepared for disasters,” said Site Administrator Gayle Heintzelman. “We watch as it happens and give a critique so we can improve in case something like this really happens.”

According to Manager of Plant Operations and Site Safety Officer Bonna Bauer, the hospital is required to perform an annual disaster drill with the county. Every six months, the hospital is also required to perform an internal drill, such as an evacuation or a fire drill. These drills keep the staff well-prepared in the event of a true emergency.

“I think it went very well,” said Kathe Smith, Manager of Emergency Services. “There are some areas that need improvement, but that’s why we have these drills.”

Smith said the main area of concern during the drill was communication.

“With so much going on both inside and out, it’s understandable, but it’s something we need to work on,” Smith said. “Overall, the response was great and the drill went very well.”

Chief Riley from Central Joint Fire Department was heavily involved in the training for the drill. He thought the drill went well, but wanted to see some regrouping done internally.

“We lost a meeting room as a result of the renovation of the hospital,” Smith explained. “We need to find a way to make up for that.”

Despite the few issues raised during the drill, Smith and her colleagues feel the hospital is well prepared in the even of a real disaster.

“We have a multitude of plans in a binder that each of our departments keep,” Smith said. “We stay up on all the trainings and these drills help us improve. I think we are prepared for pretty much anything.”

Mercy Health has been serving the Cincinnati area for more than 160 years, with more than 100 locations. These include six award winning hospitals, eight senior living communities, primary care and specialty physician practices, outpatient centers, social service agencies, fitness centers, and several outreach programs. Mercy Health hospitals are ranked in the top 100 best hospitals in the country and Mercy Health is listed in the top 15 health systems.