Priorities in Healthcare Disaster Response (part 1 of 2)

Every minute you spend thinking about disaster response now, before a disaster strikes, is a minute you save critical time and resources when the unimaginable happens. When patient care could be compromised and critical materials need expert containment, having a plan in place ahead of time means the difference between a single, isolated event, and a cascading effect of potentially life-threatening issues.

Planning for a Healthcare Facility Emergency
So how do you respond?  

Review and update your emergency preparedness plan now, before something unforeseeable happens. Research and find a qualified disaster response partner with a proven history working in the healthcare environment. Vet and establish this relationship so you already have a phone number and a name you can contact, with confidence, at the first sign something has gone wrong. 

Advance planning is the first step to keeping everyone, from patients and their visitors to facility staff and emergency responders, safe throughout the restoration process. 

Communicating During Disaster
What then? 

Practicing effective communication is one of the most important actions you can take during an emergency. People are depending on you and your response team to be in complete concert. Critical in any situation, communication is especially vital to mitigating medical center disaster risk, where patients' immune defenses are sensitive and the chance of spreading infection is heightened.

From the moment the first call is placed to project completion, maintaining open channels of daily dialogue, and often throughout the day, will help ensure the safety of everyone involved. Tools like the 'Daily Field Report' and other established methods of recording and passing along vital information will inform stakeholders of progress, keep the response team updated and accountable, and help everyone stay in lockstep. Communication tools also set a precedent for visibility, and keep the process running smoothly and transparently when challenges arise. 

Hospitals and healthcare facilities' stringent safety standards and requirements make effective communication even more important, separating those well equipped to deal with healthcare disaster restoration from those who aren't. Knowing who you need to work with, and how often, will help you organize your efforts to confirm that code and safety requirements are built into the restoration process, so the finished product is ready to pass government inspection.

Planning and clear communication creates a framework to respond quickly and safely. Facilitating collaboration with healthcare facility staff, emergency responders, patients, and visitors to maintain critical operational systems will help get your facility back to pre-loss condition as quickly as possible.

Find out how prevention contributes to restoration success and is another critical healthcare disaster response priority…(Part 2 of this article will be available on 4/29/13.)

About the Author: Jay Hughitt
Jay Hughitt is a project director at Interstate with more than 26 years' experience in the restoration and construction industry. He has extensive experience in healthcare facilities oversight previously working as VP of Construction for a large national healthcare chain. Jay holds numerous professional certifications including: ASHE Certified Healthcare Contractor and OSHA 30-hour Construction Safety and Health Certification.