Deadly Neglect: Apathy and Denial vs. Act of God

by DR. JAMES “JIM” BLAIR, COL RET, ARMY AMEDD January 19, 2012
 
You witness a geographic bound All-Hazards event. This city with 750,000 trusting souls is the victim of a fierce storm, not unusual to the area. When the storm passes 971 bodies are found. Over 1/3rd of those bodies were in the city’s hospitals and nursing homes. Is there something wrong here?
 
Each new hurricane season brings with it a flurry of new articles and books chronicling the ravages of Katrina and the continuing angst and sorrow left in the crescent city. This book is essentially the re-telling of the tragic story of nine nurses trapped in hospitals during and after one of the nation's most destructive storms.
 
First published as a scholarly doctoral dissertation we spare the reader the expected academic rigor of such a document. We take a look at the area’s history of severe storms and the costly actions taken to mitigate obvious vulnerabilities and (what appear to be) robust measures to prepare for and respond to the known greatest threat to the region.
 
We follow the approaching hurricane Katrina viewing the same set of information available to decision makers responsible for the safety and security of hospitalized patients in the area. In times of crisis, at a critical point in time, hospital authorities must choose between “protecting in place or evacuating” their vulnerable charges. The fatal decision to “protect in place” set the stage for “Nursing in Hell:” The Katrina Experience.
 
Dedication
 
This book is dedicated to a group of courageous nurses who First, braved the horror of treating frail vulnerable patients, all trapped in disintegrating hospital facilities savaged by destructive winds and inundated by flood waters; Second, their courage to volunteer for an investigation which would place them in a position of having to recount those horrible experiences; and third, volunteering to participate in such an investigation in a hostile atmosphere characterized by accusations of murder and neglect by caregiver colleagues. To Marti Jordan PhD. who agonized over the prospect of putting these nurses through what must be the emotional trauma of re-living those terrifying experiences. Dr. Jordan was not among those who experienced these events first hand but was to become a victim of Katrina through her investigative work. She now finds it unacceptably painful to engage in the retelling of her story. The author will do his best to convey the spirit and driving force which motivated this courageous band of Nurses to participate- “so this would never happen again”  
 
Author Profile

James “Jim” Blair, DPA, MHA, FACHE, FABCHS, CMAS, is President of the Center for HealthCare Emergency Readiness (CHCER). He is a career-retired Army Colonel with 28 years of active service. He is a Korean War Era draftee trained as a combat Infantryman, combat medic and healthcare professional. His Army staff assignments include: Chief of Education and Training, Office of the Army Surgeon General; The Army Surgeon General¹s representative to the U.S. Army¹s reorganization of the Army Medical Department; Chief of Staff of 7th Medical Command and USAREUR Deputy Chief Surgeon for Medical Support Services. He served in the role of Chief Executive Officer in hospitals ranging from Combat Field and Combat Evacuation, Community, Medical Center and a Hospital System with two Medical Centers and eleven Community Hospitals. He holds a number of combat awards. Among his private sector experiences are Vice President, Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Middle East Limited, Independent consultant to the Joint Commission International, Independent healthcare consulting to the Middle East and Africa, and Independent consultant to Native American Tribes under the Indian Sovereignty Act. His Public Sector experiences include Deputy Director, South Carolina Health and Human Services Finance Commission. He holds a number of University Academic appointments. Dr. Blair is a member of Epsilon Phi Delta National Honor Society in Heath Administration and is the author of a recent Book on All-Hazards Healthcare Emergency Readiness. He is the author of numerous articles spanning a number of expert healthcare domains.
 
 
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributor Dr. James Blair, DPA, MHA, FACHE, FABCHS, CAS, is president and CEO of the Center for HealthCare Emergency Readiness. He is the author of the book, Unready: To Err is Human: The Other Neglected Side of Hospital Safety and Security, which was published in June. He is also a career-retired army colonel with 28 years of active service. Among his private sector experiences, he served as VP of Hospital Corporation of America, Middle East Limited and as an independent consultant to Joint Commission International.
 

James “Jim” Blair, Col Ret, Army AMEDD , DPA, MHA, FACHE, FABCHS, CAS, is president and CEO of the Center for HealthCare Emergency Readiness. This article was adapted from excerpts from Blair's book, Unready: To Err is Human: The Other Neglected Side of Hospital Safety and Security, which was published in June. He is also a career-retired army colonel with 28 years of active service. Among his private sector experiences, he served as VP of Hospital Corporation of America, Middle East Limited and as an independent consultant to Joint Commission International.


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