Del Sol Medical Center hospital heroes reflect on El Paso tragedy

Man in navy blue scrubs standing in a hospital. Dr. Stephen Flaherty
Dr. Stephen Flaherty, medical director of trauma at Del Sol Medical Center

Today marks one year since a Walmart shooting that claimed the lives of 23 people in West Texas. In the midst of the senseless mass casualty event, affiliate Del Sol Medical Center rallied to provide seamless, unwavering care to the injured. Read on to find out how HCA Healthcare colleagues stood ready to respond and heal through trauma care and other extraordinary acts of service.

graffiti that spells out "El Paso strong"

On August 3, 2019, a gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas, Walmart shopping center, killing 23 people and injuring 26 others. It was a day that forever changed the city.

Shortly after the first shots were fired, it was evident that HCA Healthcare affiliate, Del Sol Medical Center, located only three miles from the shopping center, would be receiving victims. From volunteers to trauma nurses – HCA Healthcare family members raced to the hospital to save lives and offer support.

Woman with blond hair. Headshot of Annie Garcia.
Annie Garcia, chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center

“Even individuals that weren’t called or weren’t on the schedule just came and showed up to the hospital to see how they were able to help,” said Annie Garcia, chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center. “We were here to do one mission, which was take care of our patients.”

Del Sol Medical Center received 11 victims from the shooting. “In the blink of an eye we had enough people to be able to run seven operating rooms and take care of the operations that we needed to do,” said Dr. Stephen Flaherty, medical director of trauma at Del Sol Medical Center.

Coordination, collaboration to save lives

While we hope that we never find ourselves in the midst of large-scale disasters, it’s during such crises that the best of HCA Healthcare shines through. Our scale, scope and experience allow us to ensure that patient care is uninterrupted and that we are able to uplift our colleagues and communities.

Man in suit. Headshot of David Shimp.
David Shimp, chief executive officer at Del Sol Medical Center

Working with HCA Healthcare’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, Del Sol Medical Center had previously participated in routine exercises, drills and disaster exercises with simulated patients and hazards.

“If we hadn’t done the drills, if we hadn’t participated in mass causality exercises, I truly believe that we would not have been able to handle this as effectively as we did,” said David Shimp, chief executive officer at Del Sol Medical Center.

“As a Level Two Trauma Center, we have to be prepared for the unthinkable. And in this case, the unthinkable happened. And I’m so grateful for our entire team that we were as prepared for this as we were,” Shimp adds.

Crisis response:

When an emergency happens, HCA Healthcare monitors the situation and assesses its impact through our CodeReady system, which provides up-to-the-minute perspective to command team personnel. Working across HCA Healthcare’s network, the emergency operations team can redirect our supply chain to move medical supplies and equipment, transport care teams to the disaster area to relieve their colleagues or evacuate patients and families to safe locations.

El Paso Strong

While Del Sol Medical Center diligently provided care, the hospital received support from the larger HCA Healthcare family. Sister facilities rallied to help. Las Palmas Medical Center, located in West El Paso, sent colleagues to provide care team relief.

Methodist Healthcare in San Antonio sent their facility dogs – Chanel, Lady and Rudy – to comfort first responders, patients and families.

Three dogs comforting hospital workers
Methodist Healthcare facility dogs comforted hospital colleagues following the August 3, 2019 shooting in El Paso, Texas.

Brian Allen, a HCA Healthcare veteran hailing from Richmond, Virginia, was about to begin his new job as Del Sol Medical Center’s chief operating officer later in August. While house hunting in El Paso, he heard about the shooting and quickly stepped in to help, before his official start date. With his HCA Healthcare emergency preparedness training, he worked alongside emergency management and ensured that doctors and nurses had what they needed to treat the shooting victims.

From the volunteers who held hands…to the surgeons who healed gunshot wounds…to the nurses who worked tirelessly…to the hospital chaplains who prayed with the frightened and grief stricken…thank you for serving the El Paso community and for your commitment to care.

“When we say ‘above all else we are committed to the care and improvement of human life,’ it’s never been more evident to me that that’s exactly what our response to the event of August 3rd ended up being.”

– David Shimp, chief executive officer at Del Sol Medical Center
Sign that says We Are Stronger Together

A part of HCA Healthcare’s Central & West Texas Division, Del Sol Medical Center has provided quality healthcare to El Paso and the surrounding region since 1974. As a full-service, acute care hospital with a Level II Trauma designation in Emergency Services, the hospital provides special expertise in Cardiology, Maternity & Child Services, a Level III NICU, a Center of Excellence designation for their Bariatric Clinic, and a newly renovated 32-bed Rehabilitation Hospital.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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