In the event of a large scale medical emergency, either man-made or natural disaster, healthcare systems could become overwhelmed forcing local emergency management officials to determine alterative means to provide patient care. District Health Department No. 2, hospital and emergency management officials have decided to utilize a medical surge model called the Modular Emergency Medical System (MEMS). MEMS is a nationally developed system that organizes several components to manage a large scale biological event. A major goal of MEMS is to provide citizens with an alternate place to receive help and treatment other than the hospital emergency room. This will prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed and remain open to care for critically ill patients with life threatening conditions.
The MEMS concept calls for the rapid organization of two types of expandable patient care modules: The Neighborhood Emergency Help Centers (NEHC) and the Acute Care Center (ACC). These two modules will aid in the triage of healthcare needs to support surge capacity issues that are likely to be encountered within our communities in the event of an emergency.
Neighborhood Emergency Help Center (NEHC):
The NEHC will be a designated and well-publicized place where possible victims of a biological terrorist attack or natural disease outbreak will go to seek help. The NEHC serves three primary purposes:
- Direct casualties and “worried well” away from hospital emergency departments, allowing hospitals to continue to remain open in some capacity.
- Render basic medical evaluation and triage, allowing medical providers to focus their efforts and make efficient use of limited resources.
- Provide limited treatment to people seeking aid, including stabilization care and distribution of prophylactic medications and self-help information.
Upon arrival at the NEHC individuals will be screened for symptoms of the disease or agent associated with the event. From that point a person may be treated and asked to return home, provided education and self-help information or possibly transferred to another facility for further medical care and treatment.
Acute Care Center (ACC):
The ACC is designed, organized, equipped, and staffed specifically to provide inpatient medical services for those affected by an incident involving a biological weapon of mass destruction (WMD). The ACC is designed to treat patients who need inpatient treatment but do not require mechanical ventilation.
Patients who require advanced life support, such as that provided by intensive or critical care units, will receive priority for hospital admission rather than admission to the ACC. If local hospitals are already beyond capacity, the patient will receive as much care as the ACC is capable of providing.