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Published on February 15, 2008

Hospital Response Praised

February 15, 2008


Gov. Rod Blagojevich spent nearly two hours at Kishwaukee Community Hospital Friday afternoon. He met with the parents of the one patient remaining at the hospital, talked to the nursing staff on the medical/surgical floor, and toured the Emergency Department, thanking staff for their quick and effective response.

“I have been very impressed with how the hospital responded to this tragedy,” the Governor said. “We shouldn’t forget the importance of the healthcare staff who took care of these students.”

Earlier in the day, at a hospital news conference, Dr. Michael Kulisz, Emergency Department medical director; and Dr. Roger Maillefer, chief of staff and surgeon on call Feb. 14, detailed the medical response.

“It was a devastating event and emotions ran high,” Dr. Kulisz said. “We activated our emergency response management plan and everything fell into place. “We were calm and knew what we needed to do. When the job is done then you sit back and start to appreciate the magnitude of what just happened. But I don’t think we’ve had time to reflect on that yet,” he said.

Kulisz said paramedics triaged victims at the scene which helped the Emergency Department staff prepare. “They did an unbelievable job.”

Additional staff was called in and a full contingent of doctors on the medical staff responded. 

“The mobilization was throughout the hospital,” said Kevin Poorten, KishHealth System President and CEO. “When I walked through the Emergency Department, I was impressed with the sense of control and order in large part due to the extensive planning and training we do for disasters,” he said. 

“You cannot be prepared for the emotional side, however, especially when you see the parents and the friends . In our role as a community hospital we have a very close and longstanding relationship with Northern Illinois University. Many of our staff went to school there or have children attending the university. Many in the Emergency Department didn’t know if the next patient would be their son or daughter.” 

“We worked very closely with NIU staff members throughout the day and evening of Feb. 14 and into the early morning hours of Feb. 15.  We were very impressed with their immediate response to reach out to the students and their families,” Poorten said. 

Dr. Maillefer, a NIU graduate, said the new diagnostic imaging technology in the Emergency Department, had a big impact on how quickly the staff was able to determine the trajectory of the bullets and what organs might have been affected. “I am extremely proud of our nursing, ancillary and medical staffs. We handled it well and had the right staff with exceptional skills who knew what to do,” he said.  Poorten said this was a very tragic event for the community. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims and the whole NIU community.”

Assistance for staff and responders Outpatient Counseling/Employee Assistance Program (EAP) assembled a non-denominational response to the NIU tragedy that included prayer, a moment of silence, and an opportunity for visitors to express their thoughts on a “Reflecting, Remembering and Sharing” board. Linda Slabon of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of DeKalb participated in the service at the request of Kim Volk, EAP manager. 

According to Slabon, she and the staff of the EAP wanted the response to have a community emphasis.

State Rep. Bob Pritchard offers encouragement State Rep. Bob Pritchard visited the hospital Friday talking to staff members and offering words of encouragement.

Pritchard says it’s encouraging to know our communication system works between the first responders, law enforcement, the KishHealth System staff and everyone else involved in responding to this type of tragedy. 

The quality of care the patients received from the scene all the way through to the hospital was very good.

We don’t ever want to have this level of trauma, but we are fortunate to have this facility (KCH) that can receive these patients. 

Pritchard observes that we as people, in some ways, have lost our community connection. With the rise of technology, people sometimes turn away from each other. But when a tragedy like this occurs, it brings out people’s desire to help others and lend emotional support. And he says that’s reassuring to see. “As a community we need to watch out for each other,” he said.

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