|Chester River Hospital Center
Chester River Health System is Ready for Y2K
The witching hour that ends the century and the millennium will soon be upon us. And the Chester River Health System is ready for its arrival. Kent & Queen Annes Hospital, Magnolia Hall Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and Chester River Home Care & Hospice have invested significant time and money to assure there will be no interruption of service delivery.
For the last eighteen months they have been evaluating equipment, constructing scenarios and creating plans to be ready for New Years Eve, 1999. The major focus of this effort is centered on patient care and staff safety. Each member has contingency plans in place to handle unexpected disruptions; each will have different levels of needs on New Years Eve.
Under the leadership of Bill Short, vice president for support services, Kent & Queen Annes Hospital is ready to manage unforeseen difficulties because of extensive planning and written backup plans. Preparation for the new century began last year when manufacturers of all currently used equipment were contacted and responded in writing about the compliance of their products. An evaluation of all medical equipment was completed in mid-summer and non-compliant equipment was upgraded or replaced. The buildings elevators, emergency generators and most air handlers are not digital, so they will not be affected by the calendar change. The phone system will function. Financial and health record systems became compliant with the installation of new software and the transfer of records in July.
The emergency department is treating the New Years holiday as it would an event such as the Tea Party Festival. Catharine Neff, RNC, BSN, nurse manager of the emergency department, observes, "Extra clerical and nursing personnel will be on duty with other designated staff members on call. Should the need arise, the Hospital can shift to its external disaster response plan."
Rita Kulley, RN, nurse manager of the maternity department, notes her department will operate with staffing the same as any weekend. No large influx of mothers desiring to have the first baby of the new millennium is anticipated; the number of expected deliveries for the two weeks surrounding New Years Eve is average.
As a resident facility, Magnolia Hall must have electric power, heat and water to ensure the safety and comfort of residents; the emergency generators are primed and ready to kick on if services fail. Ray McClain, Magnolia Halls environmental services manager, points out, "Our heating, fire safety, time clock systems and air handlers are not digital and will not be affected by the date change. Medical equipment used at the nursing home is provided by a private firm, which has assured us it is Y2K compliant."
The nursing home installed a compliant Windows NT network and upgraded all hardware and software to be ready for the year 2000. Extra staff will be available if needed and the nursing home will use its natural disaster plan if disruptions do occur.
Chester River Home Care & Hospice will rely on the contingency plan used to cope with natural disasters; patients are continually informed of what action to take when normal procedures cannot take place. Medical equipment used by patients is rented from private firms who are responsible for its compliance. The agency has adopted new Y2K compliant record keeping and billing software, and the hardware has been evaluated and replaced as necessary.
William R. Kirk, Jr., president & CEO of Chester River Health System and Kent & Queen Annes Hospital, is pleased with the results of the collaborative approach to Y2K preparedness. "As health care institutions, the three members of the Chester River Health System are compelled to be certain that Y2K-related computer issues will not disrupt services. Preparing for Y2K has given us an opportunity to work together on a common goal and to share knowledge and expertise. For example, the Hospitals clinical engineers have worked with both the home care agency and the nursing center to test and upgrade computer hardware and software and information from shared vendors has been reviewed. Working together, we have been able to improve upon our individual efforts to respond to an industry wide concern."
Chester River Health System members have corrected, upgraded, tested and retested systems to validate they are Y2K compliant. It has prepared contingency and backup plans, and monitored vendors and service providers. It is ready. On January 1 the Chester River Health System will provide the same high quality medical care it has always offered.