Healthcare News & Insights

How to prepare your hospital for a natural disaster

No matter where your hospital is located, you must prepare for natural disasters. As hurricane season continues, making sure your organization has solid emergency plans in place should be a priority. 

Even if you’re not in a region vulnerable to hurricanes, you’ll want to be ready for a catastrophic event. It’s likely you already have some kind of emergency preparedness plan, but there are components to those plans that are often overlooked.

Keeping operations running as smoothly and safely as possible is the goal for any facility, regardless of the disaster. You’ll need to be able to take care of the patients you already have at your hospital, while preparing for a potential influx of new patients due to the disaster.

Communication during disaster

One key aspect to stay aware of is secure messaging and HIPAA-compliant patient communication. No matter how devastating the disaster, you can’t leave patient info vulnerable to attack.

If you text patient information, or if your backup communication plan in case of an emergency involves texting or email, be sure it’s always through a secure encrypted platform, says Healthcare Finance News.

Maintaining security is often overlooked during a disaster, but it’s important to include security measures in any emergency preparedness plan. If anything, natural disasters are a prime time for attackers to strike, since they know many organizations loosen their security restrictions.

In addition to communication, you want to make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need on hand in case transportation is limited or the power goes out.

Prioritize backup generators and in-demand medical supplies, and if you have advance notice of a dangerous event (such as a hurricane or tornado), be sure to stock up on as many extras as you can.

Telehealth options

Another helpful possibility to ensure everyone gets the care they need during a natural disaster is to use telehealth technology. If patients are stuck in their homes or unable to reach the hospital, they can still be treated via telehealth.

Although there’s no guarantee your technological infrastructure will be able to handle telehealth during a disaster, having it as an option can ease fears for sick or vulnerable patients who may not be able to get to a hospital in time.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, the most important component is training. Develop a comprehensive emergency plan, and tell all employees about their roles in it. Hold regular training sessions and drills, and avoid focusing on just one type of disaster.

Drills should touch on a range of possibilities, including power or technology outages and loss of access to transportation.

Prevention and preparedness are essential to making sure your hospital comes out of a natural disaster intact and provides the best care possible for patients.

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