Healthcare team working outside

A Triumph of Teamwork
Story 111

By Hallie Anderson

The Mendocino Coast winds along the edges of Northern California and is home to the rural communities surrounding Fort Bragg. This beautiful but highly remote area depends heavily on technology for communication. Recently, the area hospital faced a test of teamwork.

Healthcare team working outside

When fiberoptic cable lines were damaged by an independent contractor drilling near the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 1 in Fort Bragg on Tuesday, May 10, the Adventist Health Mendocino Coast hospital and thousands of coastal residents were sent off the grid for more than 20 hours. Cell phones, landlines, internet access, faxes, Kronos, Cerner and television all went down, and even 911 was not available.

People in crisis command center

Patient care continued without disruption at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast as staff took swift action. An incident command center was established immediately at the hospital, harnessing the expertise of city, fire, police and school district leaders who came together at the hospital to gather and share community-wide resources and information.

“Our teams performed with incredible precision while helping alleviate community anxiety,” said Adventist Health Mendocino Coast President Judy Leach. “Several of our team members took on additional shifts, and some even spent the night at the hospital, knowing that when phones don’t work, there is no way of calling in extra help.”

Person on satellite phone

A single satellite phone, along with radio service in an Adventist Health Mendocino Coast ambulance, helped provide safety for navigating patient care needs. The satellite phone could only be used outside the hospital building under clear skies but allowed Adventist Health Mendocino Coast to connect with Adventist Health Howard Memorial located one hour away along the treacherous stretch of Highway 20. The partnership provided a way to coordinate patient needs and bring in essential supplies, even making a late-night patient transfer by helicopter possible.

All communication channels were restored in the area Wednesday, May 11. “It was beautiful to watch neighbors take care of neighbors,” said Judy. “The world is filled with good people, and we happen to have a lot of them on the Mendocino Coast.”