Skip over global navigation links
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Kentucky Healthcare Coalitions from Response to Recovery

Kentucky Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) Response - East Kentucky Tornadoes

On March 2nd, 2012, numerous tornadoes swept across eastern Kentucky. There were disasters declared in 12 counties. There were 23 fatalities and more than 200 injuries. In West Liberty (Morgan County), the critical access hospital, Morgan County ARH (Appalachian Regional Healthcare), was severely damaged by the tornadoes. This hospital was part of the Kentucky Region 8 Healthcare Planning Coalition (HPC). Map of impacted area in eastern Kentucky.
Damaged roof on the second floor of the hospital. No patients or staff members were injured in the twister but the second-floor windows were blown out, the roof was destroyed, exterior doors were torn off their hinges and cars were demolished in the parking lot. Damages totaled nearly $4 million. The hospital's emergency room never closed, but damage to the second floor of the hospital prevented inpatient admissions for several months. Patient rooms were demolished and there was no electricity.

Maintaining Essential Services - Immediate Healthcare Coalition Response
During Kentucky ESF 8 preparedness planning, emergency support trailers were strategically placed in each of the healthcare planning coalition regions. These mobile medical assets included emergency medical supplies and generators so that facilities could maintain essential healthcare delivery services during a disaster. However, tornadoes don’t necessarily read even the best laid disaster plans of a jurisdiction and many of the nearby assets in Region 8 and 9 were destroyed. 

Assets destroyed in both Magoffin County, (SE of Morgan) and Morgan County. Assets destroyed in both Magoffin County, (SE of Morgan) and Morgan County.

Assets destroyed in both Magoffin County, (SE of Morgan) and Morgan County

Even though response assets were destroyed, redundant planning and good coordination between Kentucky ESF 8 and their healthcare coalitions enabled other resources to be mobilized and deployed to assist Morgan County ARH.

ESF 8 – Healthcare Coalition Resource Management
The first HPP Region 8 resources were moved into West Liberty within the first hour of the event. A representative from the Kentucky Region 8 Healthcare Planning Coalition stated: “Decisions we made months ago as a group made a real difference during this disaster”. This planning made it possible for the following assets to be rapidly deployed:

  • An HPP Region 8 Mass Causality Trailer was deployed from Fleming EMS to ground zero West Liberty (Fleming County is two counties away to the NW)
  • Portable Oxygen Generators were sent to Morgan County ARH (POG System from Rowan County with Booster from Fleming County)
  • A 125 KW Generator Trailer from Rowan County was deployed to provide power to the West Liberty Nursing Home (Rowan County is Morgan County’s neighbor to the NW)
  • Two HPP trailers were deployed to West Liberty from Gateway Health Department (about 45 miles away in Bath County)

Supporting Critical Services
Additional regional and state HPP equipment and generators were deployed and enabled ARH Morgan County to keep their Emergency Department open, even though the rest of the hospital was evacuated. 

HPP generators at Morgan County ARH. HPP generators at Morgan County ARH.

HPP Region 10 80kW and 45kW generators at Morgan County ARH

Transitioning into Recovery
The generators and other equipment that were provided to ensure immediate post-incident support enabled the hospital to bring back online X-ray, lab, pharmacy, and clinic services. The resource support continued as Morgan County ARH began to rebuild the rest of the hospital.

KDPH HPP 45kW Generator and Portable AC Unit supporting hospital clinical areas at Morgan County.

 KDPH HPP 45kW Generator and Portable AC Unit supporting hospital clinical areas at Morgan County ARH

A Mobile Pharmacy Unit, purchased with HPP funds, was used as temporary office for the Morgan County Health Department. Public Health Support
As immediate healthcare recovery was occurring, assets in the Healthcare Planning Coalition regions were also used to provide Public Health support. A Mobile Pharmacy Unit, purchased with HPP funds, was used as temporary office for the Morgan County Health Department. With this asset, the county was able to provide services for WIC, Immunization (tetanus and flu), Family planning services, and Environmental Health services. This type of support is just one indicator of the strong bond between public health and healthcare in the State of Kentucky.

Recovery Complete
The coordination and cooperation of the Healthcare Planning Coalitions in Kentucky were instrumental in assisting one of their own through a disaster into recovery. They did not rebuild the hospital but provided resources and assistance so that the hospital could continue to do business and provide care to the community. This is the essence of what healthcare coalitions do.

Congratulations Kentucky on a job well done!

  • This page last reviewed: November 20, 2013