Visitors to Mercy Hospital Clermont February 28 may have seen what appeared to be a grand camp out in the parking lot, but the enormous tent operating at the facility has nothing to do with smores or ghost stories.
The Alternative Care Center, a massive tent hospital complex, was demonstrated last week at Mercy Clermont, to let people know what is available should a disaster strike.
“This is what we call the alternative care center,” said Clermont County Health Commissioner Marty Lambert. “It’s a portable unit we can set up anywhere in southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky or southeast Indiana. The entire unit that we own in this region is a 210 bed facility. What we have today is three of the 41 units we own.”
The giant, mobile facility is designed to handle a range of health emergencies. In a pinch, it can be used as overflow patient care for the hospital, simply housing patients, but is also capable of performing more emergency oriented uses. Lambert said that the facility is ready to be sent anywhere in the region, should a need arise, and will make quality health care service available in most conditions.
Lambert said that this was the first test of the facility, which has been in local hands for more than three years. Mercy Clermont earned the distinction for being the first hospital to create a plan for the implementation of the facility.
"We're all working together to make this an asset to the communities in this region," said Lambert. "We want to identify one hospital per county in each region so we have a plan of where and how it can be set up. Clermont was the first to have that plan set up, so we did the first test here."
Lambert said that the mobile structure benefits locally from the volunteerism present in the Clermont County Engineer's Office. It's the workers there, she said, who have responded to the call to set the field hospital up when the need arises. This exercise was the first such, and therefore a trial run for everyone, including those tasked with putting it together.
"We wanted to set this up today for a few reasons," said Lambert. "One, we wanted to train our county engineers staff to set this up. They put this up and are working on ironing out any bugs. We've never had the heat running before, so this is an exercise to see how we can use this if we ever need it."
"Our county engineers have volunteered to be active in this and set it up," added Lambert. "We're very lucky to have the support from the county engineers office for this."
Lambert said that the structure was purchased, and has been further improved, through homeland security funding.
"We've had the actual unit for a number of years," said Lambert. "We've been adding on pieces, such as sinks, portable toilet facilities as we see the need through the regional homeland security funds."