Shugarts Willis CendomaShugarts, Willis, and CendomaHospital leaders from Las Vegas, Houston, and Chattanooga highlighted the UAB School of Health ProfessionsMaster of Science in Health Administration’s (MSHA) inaugural Disaster Preparedness Week delivering first-hand crisis lessons.

Phil Cendoma, alumnus of MSHA Class 47, was the administrator on call at a Las Vegas area hospital on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers killing 59 people.

Tyler Shugarts, alumnus of MSHA Class 50, was an administrative resident for Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga on November 21, 2016, when a school bus crash killed six children.

Kate Willis, alumna of MSHA Class 49, was a director of operations at Memorial Hermann Sugar Land Hospital when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017 and they had to evacuate 73 patients, including six newborn babies.

Cendoma and Willis were interviewed for the SHP Snapshots: Heroes Issue – Summer 2018, which provided a glimpse of what they shared with the MSHA students during their panel discussion.

“Preparedness and training are key – they could be the difference between life and death,” said Cendoma. “I share with my team that some situations are very unlikely but we must be prepared for anything. This could save your life and you can save others’ lives.”

“We had people on staff who knew they were losing their homes and who didn’t know where their children were, yet they were focused on helping other people,” said Willis.

That was the focus of the entire week: healthcare administrators are often faced with different disasters and crises during the course of their careers. From October 29 – November 2, 2018, MSHA students were exposed to different types of situations they may face and provided tools and insights on how to handle such situations. And then they were put to the test to implement what they learned.

MSHA Disaster Week 1The week culminated with a disaster simulation facilitated by the UAB Office of Interprofessional Simulation for Innovative Clinical Practice, Bill Mayfield, manager, Emergency Preparedness at UAB Medicine, and Sarah Nafziger, who is director of UAB Office of Emergency Medical Services, associate professor of Emergency Medicine, and a student in the Executive MSHA program.

The day-long simulation tasked students with responding to different stages of a flu pandemic that was killing patients within 12 hours. The students had to collaborate with all departments across the health system and they had to consider things such as preventing the virus from spreading across the hospital, addressing short- and long-term staffing needs, the financial impact of major unplanned expenses, and so much more.

“MSHA disaster preparedness week was designed and implemented based on feedback from our alumni,” said Amy Landry, Ph.D., Howard W. Houser Endowed Professor in Health Administration and MSHA program director. “Disasters can be natural or man-made and they can be as large as a hurricane that impacts thousands or as small as a water leak that shuts down a nursing unit affecting dozens. Either way, they can be cataclysmic moments that severely disrupt the places that care for those touched by an event so we do this to open the eyes of our students about how important disaster preparedness is in healthcare.”