Indy's Competitive Hospitals Get Along Through MESH

When it’s most important, the city’s healthcare providers band together.

Hospitals may be where lives are saved, but in times of disaster, MESH saves hospitals. Think of the local, full-time nonprofit as an “air-traffic control center,” says CEO Chad Priest. In cases of mass emergency, MESH (which stands for Managed Emergency Surge for Healthcare) helps Indianapolis-area facilities—including IU Health, Franciscan St. Francis, Wishard, Roudebush VA, Marion County’s public-health department, St. Vincent, and Community—train for and coordinate with each other during pressing situations. At the forefront of the field since 2008, the organization is one of only five nationwide to have received a $5 million federal grant for its efforts. Here’s how MESH has tackled some of Indy’s headline-grabbing challenges and crises.

Super Bowl XLVI, February 2012
To prepare for the flock of football fans invading the city at the height of flu season, MESH built a “Supercare” clinic downtown just for Super Bowl week to minimize crowds in local hospital emergency rooms. “If you’re busy taking care of people with minor illnesses, it reduces your ability to take care of people with major health problems,” says Priest.

Church-bus crash, July 2013: three dead, dozens injured
When a bus carrying members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church overturned this summer, MESH shared emergency department capacity information with commanders at the scene. This allowed those managing the crash site to make crucial transport decisions—and avoid overloading any one hospital with a swarm of injured victims. MESH calls this technique “managing surge.” And it’s a priority for Priest. “I wake up in the morning and say, ‘What will I do to manage surge today?’” he says. “Because surge kills hospitals.”

Richmond Hill explosion, November 2012
The Richmond Hill gas explosion, allegedly cooked up by three locals in an insurance scheme, leveled parts of the southside neighborhood. MESH assisted in the aftermath, providing supplies and setting up a mobile field-hospital tent for investigators to use as an onsite workspace.


Icons by Sam Clark

This article appeared in the November 2013 issue.