Y2K's Blessing in Disguise:Medically Fragile'" Population Included in CountyEmergency Database

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Y2K's Blessing in Disguise:Medically Fragile'" Population Included in CountyEmergency Database

TEMPLE, Texas, Jan. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The concern at Scott and White Hospital in Temple about computers and the Year 2000 has turned out to be a blessing in disguise for up to 10,000 Bell County citizens who have serious, chronic health conditions.

In contingency planning for the millennium bug, the five medical institutions involved in Central Texas Partners in Health teamed up with area governmental and human service agencies to identify and assist residents who are "medically fragile."

The need for such a database came from the monthly meetings with five county hospitals for disaster preparedness. "The monthly meetings were a part of Y2K contingency planning. The Fragile Population Database branched from those meetings," says Crystal Mears, Year 2000 Project technical director for Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple.

The database, called PALADIN, is used by social workers, emergency response teams and other medical professionals. Included in the database are patients who regularly use electric- and/or water-sensitive equipment to stay alive.

As with the rest of the world, Y2K did not create many problems. However it created an opportunity to test the two programs established by the team. The first program was the construction of the database, including ten Texas counties, and the second was the implementation of an "Adoption" program for the people who identified themselves as "fragile". During the first two hours of January 1, volunteers visited every person on date sensitive power equipment, such as a respirator or CPAP machine. All others were contacted via telephone later that same day. Had any of the communities lost power, all people with critical ratings would have received a personal visit to assist with their equipment.

"This was a wonderful test of the system," states Dr. Lucinda Harman, president of Combridge, Inc., an educational consulting company. "We need this everyday, all the time. Y2K has just heightened awareness."

To a medically fragile person, just an hour without utilities could create a health emergency. "We can have a power outage at the drop of a hat, or a tornado. We know it's more likely than Y2K," says Ms. Mears. "So far, this area is the only Texas region trying to address their special needs in times of disaster," says Dr. Harman.

Amazingly, the entire project was funded through donations. Neighborhood watches can be established, once the medically fragile persons are located and identified, Dr. Harman added. "We may prevent people from becoming fragile." For more information, contact Adam Price at 254-724-2821 or visit http://www.sw.org.

SOURCE Scott and White Memorial Hospital

CO: Scott and White Memorial Hospital

ST: Texas



01/05/2000 13:04 EST http://www.prnewswire.com

-- Cyndi Crowder (cyncrowder@aol.com), January 05, 2000

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