Penn Highlands Mon Valley Stages Emergency Drill at The Residence at Hilltop

At Penn Highlands Healthcare, patient safety and security is a key priority at each of its hospitals, outpatient facilities and residential living communities. On October 22, 2022, Penn Highlands Mon Valley conducted an emergency drill at its personal care community, The Residence at Hilltop, to put its emergency response plans to the test.

“Our crisis management plan includes periodic drills that involve participation from many different hospital departments along with police, fire and ambulance services as well as Washington County Emergency Management,” explained Diane Cooper, RN, BSN, MSN, Director of Quality/Risk Management for Penn Highlands Mon Valley. “The drills are an excellent opportunity for our team to coordinate responses to many different crisis scenarios so that we are adequately prepared in the event that a real crisis should occur.”

Representatives from Penn Highlands Mon Valley, The Residence at Hilltop, Mon Valley Care Center and local police, fire and EMS services planned the scenario — a ruptured utility line that would trigger a fire at The Residence at Hilltop and result in patient evacuations and transports to Penn Highlands Mon Valley and Mon Valley Care Center.

“The Residence at Hilltop administrative staff including Kim Taliani, Administrator/Director of Nursing; Lettie Porter, Admissions Coordinator; and Michael Toth, Environmental Services Director, were instrumental in the drill coordination. The staff at The Residence at Hilltop were well prepared and provided a rapid and safe evacuation of the residents,” added Mrs. Cooper.

During the actual drill, residents were safely secured as mannequins were used to represent the residents. Once the drill began, local police, fire and EMS services responded and scenes were staged throughout the building depicting actual situations that could occur during such an emergency.

“The drill, which lasted less than one hour, provided invaluable insight into our procedures and capabilities,” explained Mrs. Cooper. “It provided an excellent means to measure response times and the effectiveness of communications as well as helping us to identify strengths and weaknesses in our plans.”