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Acad Med. 2019 Mar 5. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002696. [Epub ahead of print]

Hurricane Harvey: First-Hand Perspectives for Disaster Preparedness in Graduate Medical Education.

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B. Newman is a hospitalist physician, Alaska Regional Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska, and former internal medicine chief resident, Corpus Christi Medical Center, Corpus Christi, Texas. C. Gallion is the administrative director of medical education for Corpus Christi Medical Center, Corpus Christi, Texas.


When disasters strike, hospitals are challenged to continue the delivery of health care, much of which is dependent on trainees. Fortunately, disasters are infrequent; however, that infrequency leads to an absence of training in how to plan and execute a disaster response, and leaves medical professionals and trainees unprepared to handle the burden of a disaster when it strikes. In August 2017, Hurricane Harvey tested the efficacy of the graduate medical education (GME) disaster plan at Corpus Christi Medical Center (CCMC) and provided an opportunity to evaluate residents' performance in a disaster situation in the inpatient setting. In this Invited Commentary, the authors recall their experience at CCMC during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. They describe the challenges that resulted from a disaster plan that proved to be inadequate. Based on their own lessons learned, the authors offer several recommendations for more effective disaster planning for GME programs: adequate staffing, adequate resources, optimal team structure, effective communication, safe evacuation, and thorough planning. This evaluation of how the residents prepared for and responded to an actual natural disaster provides perspective into the organizational and institutional challenges that could benefit from further development and implementation.

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