Infrastructure for hospitals to shelter in place - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Infrastructure for hospitals to shelter in place

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Fortunately, Isaac did not disrupt the operations of any area hospitals this week, but it did shine a light on the infrastructure that has to be in place long before a storm approaches. We went behind the scenes and on the roof at West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital in Sulphur to see what it takes to safely shelter in place.

It is a survival kit like no other - a 2,000 gallon gas tank and a semi-sized generator.  "This has the capacity to run the full hospital - all of our air conditioning, all of our electrical outlets, all of our elevators, all of our medical equipment," said WCCH CEO, Bill Hankins.

The huge generator is a big peace of mind for Hankins, knowing that his patients and staff will not miss a beat if power is ever lost.  "Once a hospital loses power, the air conditioning goes down and the walls start to sweat, the floors start to sweat and you start to create issues you could have such as mold," he said.

Mold is a health hazard many South Louisiana hospitals dealt with after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The high winds and pelting rains also devastated the structures of some hospitals.  That is why Hankins said all of the windows at WCCH have been rated for 140 mile per hour winds.  "This allows us to keep the windows from shattering, which could injure someone, but most importantly," said Hankins, "it keeps the water out of the hospital."

On the rooftop at the hospital, you can see some more storm improvements that have been made. Cables hold down air conditioning vents and other equipment on the rooftop up to 140 miles per hour winds.  "It allows for the hospital's roof to stay solid, so that we don't have any water intrusion," said Hankins.

While water intrusion is not wanted, water for the septic system and sanitation is and will not be cut off thanks to an emergency generator specifically for the water supply.  It is something Hankins says sets patients up for the best shelter in place scenario during an emergency.  "Everybody stays comfortable and safe," said Hankins, "that's our priority."

The current generator at WCCH is a temporary unit, but the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury has approved WCCH to purchase a new, permanent unit. They are in the bidding process for that right now and expect to have a permanent generator on site early next year.

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