Carolinas MED-1 serving flood-devastated Indiana hospital

Carolinas MED-1, a first of its kind prototype mobile hospital that served the medical needs of Hurricane Katrina victims on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005, has deployed to Columbus, Indiana, to provide care for the people of Bartholomew County while officials work to reopen emergency services at Columbus Regional Hospital (CRH), closed after strong storms and devastating floods caused severe damage to that area on June 7. Carolinas MED-1 is located on the CRH campus, and the majority of the clinical care is to be provided by CRH physicians and nurses.

MED-1 creator Dr. Tom Blackwell, an emergency medicine specialist at Carolinas Medical Center and medical director of the Mecklenburg County EMS Agency (Medic), says that during the Katrina response the unit exceeded expectations under the harshest of circumstances.

“The destruction was beyond anything any of us could have imagined,” he said. “We set up in the parking lot of a devastated shopping center and began seeing patients immediately, with the daily count peaking at more than 300. MED-1 answered a tremendous need. Since that deployment, we have made very few adjustments, mostly in terms of meeting crew comfort and needs.

“While we hoped that Carolinas MED-1 would never again be needed to the extent it was in 2005, history tells a different story,” said Dr. Blackwell. “Now Columbus and many other areas in the Midwest have suffered devastating flooding and we are answering the call.”

Owned and developed by Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Carolinas MED-1 was conceived in 2000 as an answer to medical needs that might follow a natural or manmade disaster. It was first deployed to Waveland/Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, on September 2, 2005, just four days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast. MED-1 set up in a shopping center parking lot and during its deployment, more than 7,500 patients were cared for by teams from a number of North Carolina medical centers. Four months later the unit was dispatched to New Orleans to augment local hospitals during the first Mardi Gras following the Katrina-caused flooding of that city. In two weeks, 575 patients were treated.

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