When Disaster Strikes: We’re All Pulling Together to Help

There are two types of disasters: disasters that are prepared for and disasters that are not. Caris Healthcare plans and works meticulously to ensure every crisis lands in the first category. Each month at every Caris Healthcare location the Safety Committee meets to review issues vital to the safety and health of our patients and employees. The Safety Committee includes the Caris administrator or patient care manager and one employee from each discipline. Committee members serve on an annual basis to ensure there’s always a new perspective on safety—from auto accidents to slips and falls and lifting issues for clinical staff. But the agenda also covers disasters we hope we never face: hurricanes, active shooters, floods or fires.

On November 28, the Caris Sevierville office was facing a forest fire two to three miles from the office. The fire started days earlier in the mountainous forests of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and made its way down to destroy hundreds of structures and homes, leaving seven dead.

When Caris staff first heard about the spreading of the fire, they immediately called six patients in the danger zone to see if they wanted to and/or needed help evacuating. Three patients were not under mandatory evacuation orders and chose to shelter in place. The other three patients needed to leave their homes—and soon. Caris staff worked into the next morning to make sure patients had respite beds reserved at local nursing centers and helped ensure they were transported safely.

The next day Caris Social Workers worked with patients to get them safely back to their homes. Caris nurses visited their patients, delivering oxygen masks and assessing the need for back-up oxygen. The Caris Sevierville team continues to monitor the safety needs of patients as some may be without power in the days ahead.

“This fire has been devastating for our community, but we are all pulling together to help,” said Administrator Robin Kountz. “I am proud of the Caris team for their commitment to our patient’s safety. I am also thankful they are safe as well.”