Kansas HME survives ice, JCAHO survey

Sunday, March 31, 2002

PITTSBURG, Kan. - Mt. Carmel Medical Equipment went toe to toe with Old Man Winter and JCAHO in January and left the ring victorious.

On Jan. 30, one of the worse winter storms in memory coated the community in a veneer of ice that downed power lines and knocked out electricity to some homes for up to five days. If that wasn't enough, the company's JCAHO survey coincided with the storm.

"She enjoyed the camaraderie," said Mt. Carmel director Gary Miller of JCAHO surveyor Rhoene Jessup. "I felt so bad that I had to pull off and not be able to spend time with her. But she was such an old hand at surveys that she said, 'You guys are fine. Go do what you need to do."'

Fortunately, the community's roads were passable and Jessup visited patients as they returned to their homes from nursing homes, motels and other temporary shelters that had electricity. She reviewed the company's books by window and lantern light.

"We aced it," Miller said. "We got a 98. There were no problem areas. Even though all this was going on, she did her survey. She looked at the van, and inspected the warehouse on day two when we had power, even though we were still delivering."

As for Mt. Carmel's patients? No problems there either. On Jan. 30, the HME's two drivers worked from sunrise to sunset, making 61 deliveries of oxygen (150 tanks) to surrounding areas, about three times the normal volume. Fortunately, weather alerts about the ice storm gavethe company time to prepare.

"(Nevertheless) it definitely was not a normal day," Miller said. "When it was all said and done, it looked like a tornado had come through." HME