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Grand Valley State University's Beacon Since 1963, Allendale, MI
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CHS mock disaster a success

As local hospitals and health organizations attempted to prepare in the event of an unanticipated tragedy, Grand Valley State University’s Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences building became the site of the first “mock disaster.”

Volunteer patients received practice medical care on May 3 as the event was created to assess the use of the CHS building as an alternative care site for Spectrum Health’s Butterworth Hospital in the event of a large-scale disaster or health crisis in downtown Grand Rapids.

Spectrum Health-Butterworth Hospital, Region 6 Healthcare Network Coalition, Kent County Health Department and GVSU were all involved with the project.

“The mock exercise was extremely successful,” said Katie Branch, health compliance specialist with GVSU’s Office of the Vice Provost for Health. “Approximately 150 KISD (Kent Intermediate School District) and GVSU students, GVSU faculty and staff and Spectrum health professionals were involved in the exercise.

Funding for the exercise was covered by the Region 6 Healthcare Network Coalition, and due to the recent flooding, the KCHD was unable to be as involved as originally planned.

The mock disaster had been in the planning stages for two years. The project involved a scenario where spectators at Van Andel Arena were poisoned by terrorists resulting in abdominal pain, nausea and respiratory distress—all symptoms of gastrointestinal anthrax. The “spectators” were actually 40 volunteers from the community and GVSU.

To further the challenge, three “human patient simulators” were involved, which are highly sophisticated dummies that manifest vital signs, clinical signs and symptoms. The simulators are controlled by a laptop, and the ones used in the event were programmed to exhibit progressively worse symptoms during care.

The process also involved patients going through registration, triage and care, giving the medical students and professionals experience working with a large amount of people and a variety of patient needs.

“If there was a community disaster (and) our current facilities were overwhelmed, this is a way that Grand Valley can give back,” Branch said.

ephillips@lanthorn.com



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