September 20, 2002

Scripps Health Demonstrates Mass Decontamination Equipment

Scripps Health Shows it is Better Prepared for Special Emergencies than One Year Ago

Scripps demonstrated its new hazardous materials mass decontamination equipment today (September 10th) outside the emergency room at Scripps Memorial Hospital Chula Vista, with doctors, nurses and health care providers demonstrating they are ready to treat multiple victims who might arrive after exposure to a toxic substance or hazardous chemical.

“On the eve of the tragedy of September 11, it’s important to note that the chemical spill we demonstrated today could just as easily be the result of a bioterrorist attack,” said Scripps CEO Chris Van Gorder. “This is certainly a major step toward protecting the community.”

Tuesday’s demonstration of the shower shelters for mass decontamination of victims, as well as new hazardous materials suits, was part of an ongoing training for Scripps employees who will ultimately train others in the five-hospital system to use the equipment.

The County of San Diego donated $180,000 to help purchase the equipment and pay for training. Supervisor Greg Cox attended the demonstration to see how his district would be protected in event of a similar emergency.

“I am extremely proud that Scripps is developing new capabilities to treat potential contamination of multiple patients,” said Supervisor Cox.

“We hope this never happens. But, thanks to our dedicated and cutting edge local health providers, we are making certain that our community is better prepared than ever before.”

With a $90,000 grant approved by the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors, Scripps purchased 10 decontamination shower shelters and 40 additional hazmat suits. The showers and suits allow health care providers to remain safe from toxic chemicals or other poisons while cleansing multiple patients so they will be free of hazardous materials and can enter the hospital emergency room.

The suits and showers will be distributed among Scripps five hospitals, so every campus is ready to provide decontamination care, whether it’s for a mass incident where dozens of victims are airlifted to hospitals across the county, or a single patient who has been exposed. The shower shelters are mobile and can be deployed anywhere.

Scripps Health is a not-for-profit, community-based health care delivery system that includes more than 2,600 affiliated physicians, five acute care hospitals, two convalescent hospitals, an ambulatory care network, and home health care services. Scripps employs about 10,000 people in San Diego County and treats more than 525,000 patients annually.

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