Cleveland hospitals prepare for crowds during 2016 Republican National Convention

Eight months ahead of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, local hospitals are taking steps to prepare for any possible emergency related to the high-profile event, according to

Hospital operators are working with public health and public safety officials to create a strategy to maintain normal healthcare operations while also preparing for the possibility to accommodate as many as 50,000 extra visitors in Cleveland for the convention during the week of July 18, 2016.

"Who knows what this will bring," said David Perse, MD, CEO of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, according to the report. "We're just trying to be prepared for whatever comes."

Emergency medical services will need to reconfigure their protocols for transporting patients to hospitals to account for crowds and safety measures that may make traveling downtown difficult.

CMOs for the Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and University Hospitals have been meeting regularly to coordinate resources. Disaster training geared toward the RNC will take place sometime next year, though some health systems have already incorporated these specific elements in their regular training, according to the report. For instance, MetroHealth sent a team of senior employees to a federal facility in Alabama in June for disaster, and plans to send a second team in December. Local health officials will likely receive similar training.

MetroHealth will be uniquely prepared should a crisis ensue, because the expansion of its Critical Care Pavilion — the first phase of a $1 billion long-term construction plan — will be completed a few weeks before the RNC begins. This means MetroHealth's ICU capacity will be double its normal size.

And while St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is often overlooked in favor of the larger hospital facilities in Cleveland, the hospital's close proximity to the downtown area where the RNC will convene will thrust it into a more prominent role in a coordinated emergency response.

"We are very well aware that we are the most proximal major institution to the event," said Dr.Perse, , according to the report. "For that reason, we have already given notice to our employees that during the week of the convention, we're suspending our paid time off scheduling during that period."

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