Lehigh Valley

Drill helps St. Luke's medical professionals prepare for alternative site care

St. Luke's holds alternative care site drill at DeSales

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - Imagine this scenario, a SARS outbreak in the Lehigh Valley.

What happens next?

That's the question St. Luke's University Health Network and DeSales University answered Monday in a full-scale drill.

The St. Luke's University Health Network also tried out the mobile command unit.

One medical professional said the drill is proof that if faced with a real life situation they can help.

Medical staff took over the University Center at DeSales University in Center Valley.

"I had a fever, cough, a high temperature and the chills," said Adam Reish, a volunteer for the drill.

Those are the symptoms of Acute Respiratory Syndrome commonly referred to as SARS.

Thankfully, this is just a drill, and the medical professional are using the university as an alternative site to treat patients.

If faced with a real life medical epidemic these health professionals say they will be ready.

"It's important for us to drill these drills," said Donald Seiple, vice president of operations at St. Luke's University Health Network. "So that we can drill and determine where our strengths are, as well as the areas where we need to improve."

The patients with SARS symptoms are seen by a triage unit, then a medical professional.

There are even coordinators for the section with all the beds.

"Real world we'd probably have more security, parking would be different, we wouldn't have the observers engaged," said Michael Whalen, NE regional emergency preparedness manager for Hospital Association of Pennsylvania.

This is the first time the health network has used DeSales as an alternative site and the first time using the mobile command unit.

Those in control of the drill say they will be ready.

"All though these are controlled drills," said Seiple. "When the real life events come, they certainly help us to mobilize and get set up quickly."

Professionals from Pennsylvania and New Jersey participated in the drill.

St. Luke's will assess the drill and look for areas to improve over the next month.

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