Highland Community Hospital became Keesler Medical Center's 25th partner hospital in the National Disaster Medical System Aug. 27, as representatives from the medical center and the Forrest General Health System signed an agreement at the Picayune medical facility.
Douglas Jones, Forrest General Health System chief operating officer, and Col. (Dr.) Tom Harrell, 81st Medical Group commander, endorsed the agreement following a tour of the Picayune hospital for members of the 81st MDG executive staff.
Highland administrator Mark Stockstill joined Jones to show the visitors around their facility. The 60-bed Highland Community Hospital is the only acute-care facility in Pearl River County.
The Keesler visitors also included Col. Kathryn Weiss, 81st MDG deputy commander; administrator Col. Robert Edwards, chief nurse executive Col. Noemi Algarin-Lozano, superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Michael Woods and Lt. Col. MiMi Cannonier, 81st Inpatient Operations Squadron commander. Maj. Marlon Muthuveeran, 81st Medical Support Squadron Medical Readiness Flight commander; and Staff Sgt. Hana Webb, the NDMS Federal Coordinating Center area coordinator, also participated.
Webb, who establishes and maintains relationships with partner hospitals, noted, "Keesler is one of three Air Force FCCs and we have partner hospitals reaching from Mississippi to Florida."
The NDMS is a federally-coordinated system augmenting the nation's medical response capability.
According to their website, the overall purpose of the NDMS is to supplement an integrated national medical response capability for assisting state and local authorities in dealing with the medical impacts of major peacetime disasters and to provide support to the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs medical systems in caring for casualties evacuated back to the U.S. from overseas armed conventional conflicts.
The National Response Framework utilizes the NDMS as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Preparedness and Response, under Emergency Support Function #8, Health and Medical Services, to support federal agencies in managing and coordinating the federal medical response to major emergencies and federally-declared disasters including natural disasters, major transportation accidents, technological disasters or acts of terrorism including weapons of mass destruction events.