Updating the disaster preparedness plan may not be the first order of business that comes to mind when contemplating an affiliation with another organization. But it’s an issue Sioux Falls, SD-based Sanford Health had to confront when Hurricane Dorian recently threatened Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society communities in Florida.
Sanford Health and Good Sam announced the completion of their affiliation in January. Good Sam also is based in Sioux Falls, SD, but has senior living and skilled nursing locations in Daytona Beach, DeLand and Kissimmee, FL, as well as locations in 22 other states. So it had confronted hurricanes before. For instance, two years ago, according to Sanford Health, Hurricane Irma also hit Category 5 status and warranted evacuations in the state.
Sanford locations, by contrast, are regional.
“We have a large breadth of expertise and plans, but hurricanes was not one of them,” Sanford Health Director of Public Safety Greg Santa Maria told the media. Planning to deal with this type of weather was a new experience for the organization.
Good Sam President Randy Bury, formerly Sanford’s chief administration officer, said the organizations used Good Sam’s plans and experience with Hurricane Irma “and then added some Sanford resources and expertise to it. It made this a real proactive approach.”
Aug. 29, Sanford set up emergency response equipment that focused on big-picture logistics at Good Sam’s headquarters, and the next day, an on-site command center was set up in Florida to focus on local needs. A Sanford corporate jet flew IT and medical equipment to Florida, where approximately 200 Sanford and Good Sam personnel were members of the response team, according to the media report.
“The significant support that Sanford Health brings to the Good Samaritan Society (beginning) in January is having a world-class emergency management organization,” Good Sam spokesman Aaron Woods told the media.
Good Sam posted updates and instructions for residents on its website and social media and held “town hall” meetings. By Thursday, residents of Good Samaritan Society – Kissimmee Village were returning to their homes after having been evacuated to Good Samaritan Society – Florida Lutheran in DeLand. Good Samaritan Society – Daytona residents also had been transported to DeLand. By Friday, Sanford Health said, all residents had returned home. A total of 237 residents had been moved.
“No facilities or campuses sustained damages due to hurricane Dorian,” Good Sam said in a Thursday post. “All facilities and campuses are operational. A tree limb fell on a cottage at our DeLand location, causing limited damage but no injuries.”
The hurricane moved north after leaving Florida.