The Mendocino coast winds along the edge of Northern California and is home to the rural communities surrounding Fort Bragg. This beautiful, highly remote area depends heavily on technology for communication. Recently, the area hospital—Adventist Health Mendocino Coast—faced a test of teamwork when those lines of communication were unexpectedly disrupted.
When fiberoptic cable lines were damaged by an independent contractor drilling near the intersection of Highway 20 and Highway 1 in Fort Bragg, 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, online health information services, employee timeclocks, and television service all went down—even 911 was not available.
Patient care continued without disruption at Adventist Health Mendocino Coast as hospital staff took swift action. An incident command center was immediately established at the hospital, harnessing the expertise of city, fire, police, and school district leaders who gathered to share 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.”
A single satellite phone and 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 it allowed hospital staff to connect with their sister hospital Adventist Health Howard Memorial, located one hour away on Highway 20. The partnership provided a way to coordinate patient needs and bring in essential supplies, even making possible a late-night patient transfer by helicopter.
All communication channels were restored in the area the following day. “It was beautiful to watch neighbors take care of neighbors,” said Leach. “The world is filled with good people, and we happen to have a lot of them on the Mendocino coast.”
By Hallie Anderson