While a toxic algae bloom had 400,000 people in northwest Ohio scrambling to find clean drinking water, ProMedica employees mobilized to ensure the safety of their patients, friends and neighbors. Some even found themselves juggling a daughter in labor and the responsibility of informing the public of the ever-changing situation.
Brian Biggie, Director of Critical Care Services at ProMedica Bay Park Hospital spent much of his day waiting for the birth of his grandchild and coordinating alternate patient care plans during the water ban.
Following a full day’s work on Friday, Biggie headed to ProMedica Toledo Hospital for his daughter’s unscheduled induction. Early Saturday morning, he was notified of the water advisory and began reaching out to the Emergency Management Advisory Council to begin executing a plan. The ban meant an immediate need for clean water for the hundreds of patients and visitors under the care of multiple hospitals and facilities.
“From 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. Saturday, I spent almost all my time in and out of my daughter’s room; balancing phone calls, conference calls, updates, and interventions while trying to support my family and daughter during her labor. I can’t stress this enough. My wife, daughter and family couldn’t have been any more supportive and understanding during this event,” says Biggie. His role during challenging times always means patients have to come first, but this particular event meant so much more to his commitment to quality and safety.
“For my family, having a loved one in the Hospital helped clarify the importance of an effective and safe system response; even if that meant I would be distracted or absent for the birth of our fist grandbaby. Think of it– our daughter was a patient, our granddaughter was soon to be a patient; this crisis had to be managed.”
“I heard the news as I was attempting to coordinate water delivery to the system, in the hall on my phone. I was physically close to my family (all 17 of them) but not really. They were all huddled together just outside the doors nervously laughing waiting for the news and I was on the phone a few feet away.The truth; I wish that I could have been more engaged at that time. As a dad I should have been.”
“Saturday around 8’ish I gave my first phone interview to one of the news channels. My daughter was recovering in the room and heard my voice on the TV set. She looked around and said, ‘Is that Dad? I thought he was here!’ Unbeknownst to her, I was pacing just outside Labor and Delivery trying to communicate our plans for the crises.”
For the next few hours, Biggie continued to do what he could for the system. He coordinated, interviewed and connected while ensuring his daughter and family were taken care of.
His daughter was moved to her room late morning, family dispersed and Biggie made his way to the Incident Command Center to continue fielding questions and overseeing the response efforts. Once the Council was comfortable with operations for Saturday and established a plan for the next day, Biggie returned to his daughter’s room to spend some quality time with her and Penelope before heading home that night.
“My experience is one of great satisfaction for the work we did during this crisis, coupled with the knowledge of incomplete and missed moments; holding on to my wife as she ‘felt’ my daughter’s contractions, nervously laughing with the group waiting for the news and being in the room for my daughter. I know that I am much harder on myself than my family ever will be. They are the most supportive girls I could ever ask for!They understand, they are patient and they get it but I promise you they won’t forget it!”
Director of Critical Care Services at ProMedica Bay Park Community Hospital
Others in Action
“When I woke up and heard the news of the water, I thought I would try to stock up on water bottles from nearby stores for coworkers and their families, and my family that needed them. My 14-year-old twins, Connor and Jessica, jumped up to help. Unfortunately, the cases of water were all out at multiple stores, so we went to Meijer and bought empty water jugs and took them to the Oregon Fire Department to fill. We then delivered to some family members and a few coworkers. The best part of the day was to see even through the panic from community, there were definitely more people helping one another, and my kids’ enthusiasm.”
ProMedica Wildwood Orthopaedic and Spine Hospital
“Randy Schimmoeller [senior vice president of operations for ProMedica Physician and Contimuum Services] called me around noon to let me know the system received water we could use for patients in need on Monday. I put out an email to all the home care field staff and asked them to let me know names and addresses of patients in need. I immediately received a request for six patients who were in need immediately. I called Randy back to see if I could pick water up right away for these patients to deliver today. He connected me with Dave Dennis who was at the delivery site. I immediately headed over and picked up some cases. [Co-worker] Margaret Day contacted me and offered to help and met me. We split the patients and each delivered their water. I received six more requests that evening, called all patients and delivered to them Monday.
Most were elderly and were very grateful as they were alone and could not get out of their house and had no family around. One couple lacking some mobility had two dogs and were worried about not having water. Another woman had several children and no transportation to obtain water from the distribution sites. I received a hug from one and lots of thanks from the others. One other patient who received water was a bed bound patient. He and his wife ran out of water Saturday and the police delivered one gallon on Sunday. We gave her more Monday. I also coordinated delivery to a woman with a 2-month-old needing water for formula mixing.
What really stood out to me was how much we depend on water and how difficult it is for some people to obtain. We assume everyone has a stock of bottled water at home but many people do not buy it.”
Director of Operations, ProMedica Home Care