With the clock ticking, Dell Seton staff practice moving critical patients

Dell Seton health workers practice moving a critical care patient ahead of the new hospital opening this weekend. (KXAN Photo)
Dell Seton health workers practice moving a critical care patient ahead of the new hospital opening this weekend. (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Dell Seton Medical Center switch from University Medical Center Brackenridge is a half a week away. For months now, doctors and nurses have custom-made the move for each patient.

This week, hospital staff scheduled their last drill that gives medics mere minutes to move critical care patients from the old Brackenridge to the new Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas.

It is an across-the-street move, with double the staff and several road closures. Doctors, nurses and medics started planning the drill and subsequent move about two years ago.

When the real move comes on Sunday, the clock starts the moment the first critical care patient enters an ambulance. Austin-Travis County EMS medics have six to 10 minutes to move critical care patients from UMC Brackenridge to Dell Seton.

Organizers say anything can go awry, but this week’s drill is designed to spot the kinks.

“We have backup ambulances in case one goes down, on-call mechanics,” said ATCEMS Division Chief Wesley Hopkins. “We’ve got food and hydration preparations, our own generator power. We’ve left nothing to chance.”

Part of the prep includes getting patients ready. There are nearly 200 of them moving across the street, each paired with a nurse who will never leave their side, go with them through the ambulance ride and still be there to check them in once they arrive at the new medical center.

The most critical patients will leave Brackenridge first.

“Everybody will be aware of the patient’s diagnosis, why they’re here and the special needs they may have,” said Taya Murray, Dell Seton patient move captain. “So, if anything goes wrong in the ambulance, we are able to take care of those patients.”

Once inside their rooms, nurses will load their medical records onto smart screens, giving health care workers will easy access to customized information for each patient.

The drill even included a staging area for family members, who are not allowed to travel with patients from one hospital to the other.

“We’ll be letting your family know that you’ve arrived so they can come up to see you,” said a nurse to a mock patient.

In addition to the doctors, nurses and medics making the move this Sunday, the hospital will also have the help of 200 volunteers. Dell Seton planners also said they drew on years of experience to help facilitate the move, which included knowledge gained during the move to Dell Children’s Medical Center about 10 years ago.

Road Closures

Starting at midnight Saturday into Sunday, May 21, Red River Street will be closed from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard o the alley between HealthSouth and Brick Oven Restaurant. Fifteen Street will also be closed from IH-35 to Trinity Street.


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