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Meet the Panelists!

Milagros Kennett, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Ms. Milagros KennettMs. Milagros Kennett possesses a unique combination of natural and man-made disaster and risk assessment expertise.  She has more than 15 years of experience in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe.  Her main focus has been natural disaster mitigation; preparation planning; and execution of natural and man-made disaster programs.  Throughout her career, she has managed l multi-million dollar programs and supervised numerous staff.  She was formerly Deputy Director of the Ministry of Public Works in the Dominican Republic and served as Dean of the School of Architecture and Engineering at the Centro de Estudios Tecnológicos. In the US, she has held many supervisory roles in the private sector and conducted complex, multi-year research projects for the US National Science Foundation.

Currently, Ms. Kennett is the staff Architect of the Building Science Branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Since September 11, 2001, Ms. Kennett has developed a program directed at building security and identifying methods to minimize the impact of potential terrorist attacks in case of explosive blast and CBR.  She is the project officer of the Risk Management Series, which includes more than 20  publications and training programs devoted to mitigate potential terrorist attacks against buildings.  Two of these publications are listed in the top five frequently downloaded publications on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's website.  For these projects, she is responsible for project design and implementation and manages large numbers of contractors and technical committees. Review the publication Design Guide for Improving Hospital Safety in Earthquakes, Floods and High Winds. 

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

Mr. Chris Van GorderSince 2000, Mr. Van Gorder has been the president and CEO of Scripps Health, a not-for-profit health system based in San Diego, California. Scripps operates five acute-care hospital campuses, 19 outpatient clinics, and regional home health care services with more than 2,600 affiliated physicians and 12,700 employees.

In 2008, Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla hosted a landmark emergency training event. Believed to be the first large-scale disaster event to link federal, state and local government agencies with private-sector healthcare officials, the drill enabled participants to practice what it really takes to secure the campus of a major hospital during a crisis and keep it operational. Van Gorder also created the Scripps Medical Response Team, which has been deployed as a "lifeboat" to aid victims following the 2007 San Diego wildfires and to help Hurricane Katrina victims evacuated to Houston.

Mr. Van Gorder serves as a commissioner on the California Emergency Services Commission, and is a reserve commander in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Search & Rescue Unit. He received his master’s degree in public administration/health services administration at the University of Southern California. He is board certified in health care management and a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). Watch an interview with Chris Van Gorder on how California hospitals prepared themselves to deal potential emergency situations.

Dr. Ruth Berggren, University of Texas Health Science Center

Dr. Ruth E BerggrenRuth Berggren is currently the Director of the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics at University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio. Prior to this, she was a faculty member of Tulane University, and during Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Berggren was the teaching physician assigned to the Infectious Disease ward of New Orleans' Charity Hospital. She remained at Charity for six days and nights after Katrina struck, working with medical staff to care for critically ill, abandoned patients. After all patients were evacuated from Charity Hospital, Dr. Berggren and her team were rescued by a private jet from Texas. She has subsequently published two articles in the New England Journal of Medicine about this experience and about the impact of hurricane Katrina on health care infrastructure in New Orleans.

Dr. Berggren received her undergraduate degree from Oberlin College, and her MD from Harvard University. Her internal medicine training was at Massachusetts General Hospital, followed by a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at the University of Colorado.  She is fluent in both Haitian Creole and French. Read an article by Dr. Berggren in the New England Journal of Medicine on her experience during Hurricane Katrina.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 April 2009 11:00

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