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Disasters & Teamwork

The New York Times (photo from the article) details how challenging it may be for coastal hospitals to deal with the new realities brought on by natural disasters.  Bellevue Hospital, the nation's oldest public hospital, had to evacuate yesterday when its generators failed. Hospital staff had been sending fuel up 13 flights of stairs through bucket brigades to keep them running.

For all the craziness that happens during disasters, they are also some of the times when teamwork happens at its best.  It would be great if that kind of teamwork could happen all the time, albeit without moving patients down stairs due to non-working elevators and hand pumping respirators.  One of the biggest challenges I hear about from former students is navigating the complexities of teamwork between staff members.  Depending on the institution, in some places it is the nurses; others the nursing assistants.  Physician dynamics vary so much between teaching and community hospitals that you never know how that will factor in, but it always matters for job satisfaction as the evidence shows over and over again.

So next time you get frustrated with your co-workers in any job category, think about how those two hospitals managed to pull it together in the interest of patients.  Hopefully if you take a proactive attitude to address the situation in the best interest of the patient, maybe its a seed you'll plant to start making a positive change.


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