The safety of our patients, employees, and community members is of utmost importance to us at Lakewood Health System. This requires concerted efforts from all members of our team, and we are dedicated to providing tools and resources to enhance safety and security at our facilities and in our communities.

In an effort to maintain emergency preparedness, Lakewood Health System completes monthly code drills in lieu of real events like severe weather, evacuations, missing persons, trauma, security threats and fire.

Lakewood Health System is active member of the Central Minnesota Healthcare System Preparedness Program (CMHSPP). The CMHSPP’s mission is to assist regional hospitals, clinics, and long term care facilities in their planning and response to potential healthcare disasters. The program’s funding and guidance is provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services through the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Preparedness. Lakewood also collaborates with Todd and Wadena counties and the City of Staples in preparedness planning and response.

Always call 911 first, in case of an emergency!


Our Main Campus and Senior Campus facilities are designated severe weather shelters for our surrounding communities and neighborhoods. If you are experiencing bad weather – either at home or on the road – and do not feel safe, please do not hesitate to seek shelter with Lakewood Health System.

Emergency Preparedness at Home
Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air.

1. Get a kit of emergency supplies.

Recommended supplies to include in a basic kit:
• Water one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
• Non-perishable Food at least a three-day supply
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA
• Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First Aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Important Family Documents
• Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers

Consider two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away.

2. Make a plan for what you’ll do in an emergency.

Plan in advance what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation. Use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Develop a Family Emergency Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
Be sure each person knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient. Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is immediate danger. Watch television and listen to the radio for official instructions as they become available.

Create a Plan to Shelter-in-Place. There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as sheltering-in-place and sealing the room can be a matter of survival. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place and seal the room. Consider precutting plastic sheeting to seal windows, doors and air vents. Each piece should be several inches larger than the space you want to cover so that you can duct tape it flat against the wall. Label each piece with the location of where it fits. Use all available information to assess the situation. Quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors, and close windows, air vents and replace dampers. Immediately turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal all windows, doors and vents. Understand that sealing the room is a temporary measure to create a barrier between you and contaminated air. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions from local emergency management officials.

Create a Plan to Get Away. Plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it at all times. Become familiar with alternate routes as well as other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Take your emergency supply kit, unless you have reason to believe it is contaminated and lock the door behind you. Take pets with you if you are told to evacuate, however, if you are going to a public shelter, keep in mind they may not be allowed inside. If you believe the air may be contaminated, drive with your windows and vents closed and keep the air conditioning and heater turned off. Listen to the radio for instructions. Know Emergency Plans at school and work. Talk to your children’s schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency. If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan. Review and practice it with your employees. A community working together during an emergency also makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together.

3. Be informed about what might happen.

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family emergency plan, are the same for both a natural or manmade emergency. However there are significant differences among potential terrorist threats, such as biological, chemical, explosive, nuclear and radiological, which will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. By beginning a process of learning about these specific threats, you are preparing yourself to react in an emergency. Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. Also learn about your community’s local emergency plan. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected.

4. Get Involved in preparing your community.

After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergencies, take the next step and get involved in preparing your community. Learn more about Citizen Corps, which actively involves citizens in making our communities and our nation safer, stronger and better prepared. We all have a role to play in keeping our hometowns secure from emergencies of all kinds. Citizen Corps works hard to help people prepare, train and volunteer in their communities. Go to for more information and to get involved.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-BE-READY

Disposal of unused/unwanted medications

Expired or unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications from households have traditionally been disposed of by flushing them down the toilet or a drain. Although this method of disposal prevents immediate accidental ingestion, it can cause pollution in wastewater, which has been demonstrated to cause adverse effects on fish and other aquatic wildlife. When the water is eventually reused, it can also cause unintentional human exposure to chemicals in medications.

To properly dispose of medications, follow these tips before you toss them in the trash.

1. Keep the medication in its original container. The labels may contain safety information and the caps are typically childproof. Leaving the content information clearly visible, scratch the patients name out or cover it over with permanent marker.

2. Modify the medications to discourage consumption. For solid medications such as pills or capsules: add a small amount of water to at least partially dissolve them.  For liquid medications: add enough table salt, flour, charcoal or non-toxic powdered spice, such as turmeric or mustard to make a pungent, unsightly mixture that discourages anyone from eating it. For blister packs: wrap the blister packages containing pills in multiple layers of duct or other opaque tape.

3. Seal and Conceal. Tape the medication container shut with packing or duct tape and place it inside a non-transparent bag or container such as an empty yogurt or margarine tub to ensure that the contents cannot be seen. Do not conceal medicines in food products because they could be inadvertently consumed by wildlife scavengers.

4.  Discard the container in your garbage can. Do not place in the recycling bin.

Safe disposal for needles and syringes

It is important to manage and dispose of needles, lancets and syringes (sharps) safely to prevent injury and disease transmission from needle-sticks. Never leave needles or syringes on streets, in parks, or anywhere else where someone could get injured.

1.  Storage of destructive sharps

  • Store at home: purchase a sharps disposal container from a pharmacy or get an empty laundry bottle with a screw on lid. Do not store used sharps in glass bottles, aluminum cans or coffee cans. Always keep storage containers for used sharps out of the reach of children.
  • Destroy at home: Devices or containers with mechanisms that bend, break, incinerate (destroy by high heat), or shear needles are called sharps needle destruction devices.
  • A destruction device that incinerates needles and lancets can be used at home to destroy sharps immediately after use. They use a few seconds of high heat to melt needles and reduce them to BB-size balls. Previously used only in healthcare facilities, these devices are now available in smaller, less expensive models for home use. Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container).
  • A needle cutter that automatically stores the cut needles is also useful while away from home when a disposal container is not available. A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.

2.    Disposal options. Never place containers with used needles or syringes in a recycling bin or loose sharps in the garbage. Use one of the following options to dispose of the used needles, lancets, and syringes:

  • Home Needle-destruction Devices Once the needle or lancet is destroyed by heat in a destruction device, the remaining syringe and melted metal can be safely disposed of in the garbage (not the recycling container). A needle clipper that stores clipped needles should be disposed of at a sharps collection site or through a mail-back program.  
  • Mail-back Programs Mail-back disposal programs allow home sharps users to mail used sharps to licensed disposal facilities as a safe disposal option. There is a fee charged for this service. Check with your health care provider or pharmacist, or search the yellow pages or Internet using key words “sharps mailback.”  
  • Households can put used sharps in a labeled laundry detergent bottle to safely dispose of them. However, these containers must be brought by the household to the local transfer station or county landfill. They cannot be placed in the garbage for regular pick up. This will prevent injury and health risks placed on those who might come in contact with the sharps.

*Information collected from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. 

Patient Safety Director
Find out more about patient rights and confidentiality here. This institution is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Staff:    Web sign on | Lakewood staff portal |