Today Orlando Health is releasing a white paper that outlines a new program designed to reunify international patients with their countries of origin. The need for the nation reunification program was identified in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy when multiple consulates contacted the healthcare organization in an effort to determine if any of their nationals were impacted in the shooting. More than 80 foreign missions are based in the state of Florida, with many more being based outside the State which still have responsibility for the region.
"Providing the information the consulates requested was a challenge. We realized then that we needed a better system to help reunify international patients with representatives from their home countries, especially during mass casualty or mass fatality incidents," said Eric Alberts, manager of emergency preparedness for Orlando Health. "During an extensive after-action review of our response to the Pulse tragedy, this issue rose to the top as one that needed our immediate attention."
The emergency preparedness department and Orlando Health's patient access department worked together to develop the program, which may be the only one of its kind in the United States. The program is active in Orlando Health hospitals located in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Upon admission, international patients are provided with the contact information for their embassy or consulate-general. If the patient wishes to contact their embassy or consulate-general, but is unable to do so, Orlando Health will make the connection for them. And with the patient's consent, their nationality will be included in their medical record. Between September 2017 and early January 2018, the organization conducted a four-month long pilot of the program that reinforced the need for it.
During the pilot, more than 5,300 international patients were made aware of the nation-reunification program. More than 4,400 opted in to it while slightly over 950 patients declined. One hundred ten nations were represented by the patients who opted in to the program, ten of which had 100 or more citizens who were patients in an Orlando Health hospital.
In descending order, those nations were:
- 1 Haiti 827
- 2 Brazil 719
- 3 Venezuela 386
- 4 Mexico 339
- 5 Columbia 224
- 6 United Kingdom 162
- 7 Dominican Republic 144
- 8 Cuba 145
- 9 Honduras 116
- 10 Jamaica 110
"As one of the top tourism destinations in the world, Central Florida hosts millions of international visitors each year," said David Strong, president and CEO, Orlando Health, "Should they become ill or injured during their stay, Orlando Health not only wants to provide them with the best medical care, we also want to help connect them to representatives of their home countries. We have seen, first-hand, the care and support consulates provide to their nationals overseas at a time when they need it most. We want to ensure all our patients, especially those who may be unfamiliar with U.S. processes, receive as much support as possible."