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July 28, 2016 (Cleveland)

Emergency Preparedness Team Recaps RNC Planning

Emergency Preparedness Team Recaps RNC PlanningRNC Responsibilities

Every day during the Republican National Convention Beth Gatlin, The Center for Health Affairs’ director of emergency preparedness, and Andrea Bishop, emergency preparedness project manager woke up at 4:30 a.m. to send out surveys to all Cleveland-area hospitals for operational and situational reporting. Then, they would report to either the City of Cleveland Emergency Operations Center for a 12-hour shift or to the Cuyahoga County Emergency Operations Centers for a 6-hour shift before finally heading home to serve on-call overnight.

"During RNC planning, representatives from the city asked our hospital colleagues to staff the EOCs, but they didn’t have the capacity to do that,” explained Gatlin. “They needed their staff on-site to care for patients and keep things running smoothly, so we did as much as we could for them. For the evening and night shifts, the Cleveland hospitals supplemented the City EOC with emergency management staff, which was extremely helpful for us.”

“One of the most important things we did during the RNC, was to keep all of the hospitals and the healthcare community updated,” continued Bishop. “We sent out updates every hour so no one had to wonder what was going on. They already knew.”

All told, in the one-week RNC period, Gatlin and Bishop put in 137 hours at the Emergency Operations Centers and 111.5 hours on-call hours. But even before the GOP descended on Cleveland, The Center’s emergency preparedness team played a key role in developing a regional hospital plan specifically for the convention.

RNC Planning

“The secret service came to Cleveland last fall to begin RNC planning, mostly focusing on law enforcement,” said Gatlin. “In January, we began strategizing with our hospitals and community partners as the Health and Medical Workgroup. These initial meetings helped us quickly determine the priority workgroups that needed to be established.”

The workgroups brought together a wide range of community partners, including hospitals, the city and county health departments, the medical examiner’s office, Region V of Health and Human Services and the city’s emergency management agency, all of whom aided in developing a regional hospital plan for the RNC. Two priority workgroups, which grew out of that initial Health and Medical meeting, were led by The Center’s emergency preparedness experts.

  • Surge – This group, comprised mainly of hospitals within the city of Cleveland, was charged with helping federal partners understand hospitals’ capacity under a variety of circumstances. More than just how many beds are available, it was necessary to assess capacity in more detail such as emergency department hours, operating room hours, laboratory testing locations, specialist availability and burn unit capacity.
  • Operations – All of The Center’s member hospitals participated in this workgroup, which had the responsibility of developing a hospital operational plan to lay out how the region’s hospitals would function during the RNC.

In addition to these subgroups Gatlin and Bishop participated in the local Mass Fatality and Epidemiology Workgroups and the FEMA Consequence Management Subcommittee that were also established during RNC planning.

“All in all, it ended up being pretty uneventful. Thank goodness for that,” said Gatlin. “We give kudos to law enforcement and federal partners. They did an outstanding job of monitoring; they really kept us safe. It was such a thing of beauty to watch and be a part of.”

For more information about The Center’s involvement in RNC planning, contact Beth Gatlin at 216.255.3665 or via email or Andrea Bishop at 216.255.3662 or via email.