Contributor: Laurel McGinley, PE
I was playing “ambulance” with my four-year-old son the other day when he said, “Uh-oh, Mommy, the bridge to the hospital is broken.” He fired up the ambulance’s jet engines and was able to fly the patient to the hospital for treatment. This got me thinking about the hospitals near my house. If one became inaccessible for several days due to a natural or manmade disaster, incoming patients could be diverted to other facilities (that is, if the ambulances aren’t equipped with jet engines!). But what about the patients already at the hospital—is the facility capable of sheltering them in-place until the obstruction can be cleared? Why Shelter-in-Place?
At Dewberry, we’ve teamed with Yale New Haven Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response to help hospitals and healthcare facilities answer that very question. We understand that even if evacuation is physically possible, healthcare organizations have medical reasons for sheltering-in-place:
Developing a Plan
- acute care and non-ambulatory patients’ lives may be threatened during an evacuation if necessary medical procedures cannot be performed
- administration of medication may be delayed
- portable equipment can fail
Our team has developed an impartial, comprehensive assessment process to evaluate a healthcare organization’s ability to shelter-in-place. Conducting electronic surveys, on-site interviews, and facility walk-throughs, as well as using the National Weather Service’s Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes Model (SLOSH) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s HAZUS-MH computer models, we collect data and evaluate an organization’s ability to shelter-in-place. We then recommend mitigation actions that can be taken to improve an organization’s ability to shelter-in-place. Grant Support
Recognizing the importance of hospital and healthcare organizations’ ability to reduce risk and vulnerability during disaster events, federal and regulatory agencies have instituted requirements and guidelines for assessment and planning for such events. Grant funding is available to states through the Department of Health and Human Services Hospital Preparedness Program, improving healthcare organizations’ resilience from disasters through increased preparedness. As hospital and healthcare organizations become better prepared and less vulnerable to disasters, rest assure they will be able to deliver uninterrupted care to their patients.