INsight into Eskenazi Health Emergency Preparedness

           The MESH Coalition takes pride in being a reliable community partner, as well as developing sustainable and proficient relationships with various indispensable organizations and networks. One of many relationships that the MESH Coalition takes great pride in is with Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital (Eskenazi Health). This healthcare system, formerly known as Wishard Health Services, is designated as the county hospital for Marion County. Designated as such, Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital is a major healthcare organization that sees hundreds of culturally diverse patients every day in their various units and specialty services. With a high-volume bed capacity, dozens of off-site locations, and thousands of employees, managing risk and emergency situations is essential in Eskenazi Health running efficiently.

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            Justin Mast is the person responsible for managing Eskenazi Health’s Emergency Preparedness and Response, and ultimately the focus of this Insight Article. His primary duty is emergency management activities for Eskenazi Health, including Eskenazi Health’s primary care centers and Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health Center. These activities can include but are not limited to emergency preparedness plans and exercises, staff trainings and seminars, community partner engagements, and continuing education credit classes. While a day in emergency management is never like the previous, you can find Justin doing new employee orientation, exercise and drill planning, community planning, policy revision and creation, daily safety huddles, information sharing activities, and any other projects that might impact Eskenazi Health’s ability to provide for the community. With all of the staff and assets that Eskenazi Health has, Justin must be able to prioritize his duties to ensure the safety of all staff, patients, and citizens within their facilities. He states that it can be difficult to figure out what truly needs to be done first, but he tries to put his priorities into three categories; urgent and important work, important work, and urgent but not important. After doing this he tries to think and work through the urgent and important work first and then move through the rest. As previously stated though, emergency management is unpredictable, so Justin’s day is usually never the same, especially when an immediate event or emergency can happen any time and anywhere.  For Justin, that unpredictability is what attracts him to this job. He can develop an extensive, all-inclusive, plan, but those plans can change in an instant and force him to react and adapt innovative plans for an unpredictable and ever-changing event.

            As the Marion County hospital, Eskenazi Health works with numerous community partners in the healthcare and public safety sectors to provide the best services to the public. Some of Eskenazi Health’s most common community partners include Marion County Public Health Department, The MESH Coalition, and Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. Having good relationships with community partners is a major task, but one that can greatly benefit Eskenazi Health and Justin in their ability to provide skillful services to the community. Justin states that he has good relationships with other hospitals and their emergency managers, which can prove to be essential in times where an emergency event or surge on the hospital takes place. Furthermore, Justin will often share information and collaborate with them on projects or areas of joint concern.

          One of the more recent workshops that Eskenazi Health, Justin, and The MESH Coalition was focused on the immediate aftermath of an active shooter. Justin had a unique concentration with this workshop because from a hospital’s perspective, staff and patient care is of the utmost priority, but he wanted to focus this workshop’s efforts on how does someone handle a situation in which a care provider won’t leave a patient, or if they are in the middle of a surgery and can’t leave the patient. Justin states that he is not as concerned about the immediate police response with this workshop, but rather wants community information sharing, joint effort and ensuring that Eskenazi Health can provide for their patients and staff even in such an event. Through this workshop Eskenazi Health wanted to collaborate on how they can secure certain high risk and critical areas so they can continue patient care, improve planning and recovery. As a result, Justin believes that the workshop helped open the eyes of community partners to the unique environment that the hospital provides and it helped re-energize their internal planning.

            Justin has more experience in an active assailant situation than most as he was in the command center of his hospital assisting in the response to the Aurora, Colorado Movie Theater shooting in 2012. This emergency event helped push Justin away from bedside nursing duties towards emergency preparedness. The unique experience of a bedside ED nurse with emergency preparedness is a combination that ultimately helps Justin do his job and bring a different perspective to planning processes. This event and his experience with it was an affirmation for Justin as he used this to help push him to pursue and focus his undeniable work ethic towards emergency management.

            When Justin is not preparing, managing, and reviewing emergency preparedness and response, he enjoys spending time with his family on their little ranch/farm tending to seasonal crops and working outdoors. Additionally, and as time allows, Justin enjoys backpacking and travelling to various scenic destinations.