A warning went out this week that there might be terrorist attacks directed against the nation’s hospitals. Though federal agencies cautioned that the chance was not great, medical centers nonetheless were looking over their preparations. Dr. Andrew Nugent is director of emergency medicine at University Hospitals in Iowa City and says the plans are much like any business strategy for coping with a disaster. He laughs as he says that they’re planning not only to cope with it, but to take disaster victims from other places as well and points out that while other businesses will plan to get their workers away from trouble, the University Hospitals will expect to be bringing them all in so they can be cared for. Dr. Nugent says they try to plan for every eventuality. He says every disaster is different, but as far as possible the hospital’s ready for anything short of an attack by a small army, and should be able to treat large numbers of people from an attack or accident. He says there’s a statewide preparedness system that’s been developed much more since September 11 of 2001. Since most of the security preparations are to be kept confidential, Dr. Nugent can’t talk about details, but says there are arrangements in place for things like power generators and water supplies in case of terrorist attack or natural disaster that affect University Hospitals in Iowa City.
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