The National Mobile Disaster Hospital (MDH) that deployed from North Carolina on May 1 to tornado-ravaged Louisville, Miss., opened May 19 to patients. The opening was greeted by fanfare and a walk-through by Mississippi Gov. Philip Bryant and federal, state and local dignitaries.
The site has become the temporary medical care center for the community of 19,000. It is expected to be in operation for 12 to 18 months while reconstruction is under way for the Winston County 41-bed hospital and the eight of the community’s nine medical offices that were damaged or destroyed in the EF4 tornado that struck on April 28.
A dozen 10×90-foot buildings were moved onto the site of the MDH at a former silk flower distributor to form the administrative office and out-patient clinics. They join the emergency department and wards, pharmacy, central supply and X-ray unit and other equipment brought onto the site by 18 FEMA tractor-trailers from a storage facility in Mocksville, N.C., earlier this month. The North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services and the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services traveled to Mississippi to train Winston Medical Center staff on how to operate the equipment they will use in the mobile hospital.
The Mobile Disaster Hospital (MDH) is a medical contingency care capability asset that can be deployed anywhere in the nation to augment or temporarily replace a fixed/field medical facility. The MDH is available through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a national disaster-relief agreement. It is owned by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and assigned to the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services (NCOEMS). The MDH allows for a flexible disaster-relief response through its scalable and modular design.
The goal is to deploy by ground within 24 hours of mission assignment. All units, with the exception of the ICU, can begin operations within 48 hours. The ICU can be operational within 72 hours after arrival.
The success of the Mobile Disaster Hospital relies upon integration with the requesting agency.
These units function under the direction of the requesting host medical unit.
The deployment was coordinated by Dr. Lew Stringer, MDH project manager, and a team from the N.C. Office of Emergency Medical Services, along with set-up partners from the North Carolina Baptist Men.
Stringer said he hopes to return to North Carolina later this month with trailers and equipment that are no longer needed at the site so he can prepare the MDH for its next deployment. “With hurricane season about to start, we need to have our rapid response and surgical capabilities in place,” he said.