As the disaster in Joplin, Mo., continues to unfold, Patty Wininger, Duncan Regional Hospital emergency preparedness coordinator, said a similar strike in Stephens County isn’t likely, but assured the community DRH wouldn’t succumb to mother nature’s best blow.

“With us, DRH, we are not like St. Johns in Joplin,” Wininger said. “They were able to take patients to other hospitals in Joplin. We are the only hospital for 45 miles. Even if we are damaged, we still have to provide care and treatment for our community.”

It’s that fact which has driven Wininger and DRH to pursue extensive emergency plans. DRH operates from an “all-hazard approach,” Wininger said. An “all-hazard approach” means DRH has the same general plan for responding to emergencies but can adjust it depending on the    severity of the incident.

The most recent demonstration of DRH’s emergency plan in action is the ice storm in 2010. Much of Duncan and Stephens County went without electricity for days. DRH, however, had plans in place and utilized its generators to continue providing medical care.

With Duncan in the heart of tornado alley, a disaster similar to Joplin’s isn’t out of the question, Wininger said. For weather related emergencies, DRH issues a “Code Yellow.” Should the storm sirens sound in Duncan, hospital staff ensures that safety of its patients and guests by moving them all to interior hallways and corridors.

DRH team members are well-versed in this practice, Wininger said.

“We probably do that once a year, if not more,” she said. “We move patients into the hallway and we make sure our guests in our lobbies are moved further into the facility. We do our best to make sure everyone is safe.”

Because DRH is the only hospital for 45 miles, Wininger said having dedicated team members is imperative.

“We have some of the most dedicated people in Duncan working at DRH,” said Wininger. “There is no doubt in my mind that if there is a disaster in this county, these people would be there in a heartbeat. It’s that attitude that makes you feel good to work at a place like this.”

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