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Getting to know the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group

Getting to know the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group

In the late 1990s, the concept of the Collaborative Healthcare Urgency Group emerged. Connie Polke, the concept’s innovator was a licensed respiratory therapist who recognized the frailty of patients and residents within healthcare facilities. The longer she worked in the field, the more she became concerned about patients’ well-being and especially so in cases of emergency.

“Several years earlier, Bill Pretzer, a Battalion Chief for the Park Ridge, Illinois Fire Department, was called out to a flooding event at a local nursing facility, and experienced first hand, the dangers of inadequate preparation as well as the complications of moving these fragile individuals,” the CHUG website reported. “Both Connie and Bill began working together to develop, not only evacuation strategies and planning, but also created an executable, collaborative program to safely transport patients/residents with functional needs, to facilities equipped to accommodate their unique needs.”

Many lessons were learned during and after 9/11, inspiring Polke and Pretzer to team up and apply for the designation of 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. During the process they learned more about how emergency

personnel can quickly become overextended during events like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.

In worst-case scenarios, emergency responders are forced to “move these fragile patients and residents to a temporary place of safety, like a local gym or community center,” the CHUG website explained. “Sometimes, they are unable to respond at all for up to 72 hours, leaving the facility on its own.”

Also known as CHUG, the organization works in conjunction with, yet independent of emergency management teams, to safely transport patients and residents to other member facilities. They then return those patients to home facilities when they are ready to be reopened.

Freedom Home Care is proud to be a member of the family of CHUG facilities, which means that our staff have been trained and prepared to either shelter-in-place or help evacuate or receive patients during emergency situations. According to the CHUG website, the organization is recognized as experts in the field of functional needs evacuations and are active advisors to state and municipal governing bodies.

What membership of CHUG also indicates, however, is that your aging family members will be under the watchful eye of the area’s most qualified caretakers in the event of an emergency.

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