Banner prepares for solar eclipse
Hospitals in Wyoming, Nebraska may see record number of patients

Contact: Public Relations

PHOENIX (Aug. 17, 2017) – A total solar eclipse will be highly visible in a path across the country including Wyoming and Nebraska where Banner Health operates hospitals.

Many, many people want the best seats in the house to view this event. Wheatland, Wyo., home to Banner’s Platte County Memorial Hospital, and Torrington, Wyo., location of Banner’s Community Hospital, are in the eclipse path. Experts expect visitors to flood both towns.

The numbers:
•             Estimates range from 30,000 to 300,000 visitors will come to the immediate area
•             Platte and Goshen counties (where our hospitals are) have a combined population of 22,377
•             Platte County has one hospital
•             Goshen County has one hospital
•             Combined, the hospitals have 12 emergency room beds.

Campsites and hotels are booked. Access to port-a-potty rentals is nonexistent. The Wyoming Highway Patrol blocked vacation for officers during this time, and the State Legislature considered a bill to provide emergency management funding. (It failed.)

Our Banner Health hospitals in Worland, Wyo., (Washakie Medical Center) and Ogallala, Neb., (Ogallala Community Hospital) also expect higher than normal traffic. Those communities are just outside the eclipse’s path.

What are we doing?
Our Emergency Management team is leading mass gathering planning, meeting monthly with folks from the affected communities plus Northern Colorado. Together, they identified areas of concern and how we can help.
•             Patient surge in our Emergency departments. Typically, those departments have one physician, one ED tech and one nurse. If the eclipse fans arrive early and stay late, the hospital needs to be prepared for surges over a minimum of the four-day weekend. Who will staff all those hours?
•             Partiers on the prairie. The high plains of Wyoming offer hidden treasures including rattlesnakes, wildlife, blistering sun, crazy wind and desert-like conditions. Do we have enough supplies and pharmaceuticals to treat patients? Should we plan off-site medical aid stations? Do we have enough ambulances and first responders?
•             Sprichst du Deutsch? Planners expect many international travelers. Are we prepared to interpret medical information for those travelers?