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Hurricane Irma Gives Providers a Reality Check for Emergency Preparedness

Decades ago, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma would have been considered 100 year storms. But did you know Harvey and Irma happened within a month of one another.

What’s more is these two storms were destructive in different ways. Harvey brought a storm surge and powerful winds, and the flooding was so far inland, no one was prepared. Irma had even more powerful winds that knocked out power for days on end—despite Florida’s significant efforts toward advanced preparation.

Providers must ensure that there is a contingency plan, so they will be properly prepared for any situation that might arise, probable or not. Working with a company who specializes in emergency preparedness for healthcare providers can ensure you won’t run into problems when disaster strikes.

Risk Assessments

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provide risk assessments to be filled out prior to making emergency preparedness plans. This should help guide you through the process of figuring out what type of emergency situations your patients might need care through.

During Irma, a risk assessment should have included what to do if power is knocked out for a considerable amount of time. Additionally, Governor Scott sent out an emergency mandate that all assisted living facilities have enough generators to run backup power for up to four days while electricity is being restored.

Develop a Plan

The CMS outlines exactly what needs to be in all emergency preparedness plans for patient medical facilities. This is including, but not limited to, plans for contacting emergency officials, plans for moving at-risk patients to different facilities and plans to contact homebound patients to make sure they do not need to be evacuated.

Brightgray Solutions can be an asset for your facility while implementing and maintaining an emergency preparedness plan. The CMS mandated plans must have been made by November 15, 2017. Contact us today to make sure your facility is in compliance with all guidelines and rules.

Implement, Train, Update

Once an emergency preparedness plan is complete, implementation across any and all facilities must be done. If your facility has more than one location or building, there must be direct lines of communication about the plan. If you are a home health care or hospice agency, you must have plans for each individual patient residence. There are specific guidelines for home health care and hospice agencies in the CMS final ruling. All employees must be trained on the policies and plans set in place, with documentation that training has occurred. These emergency preparedness plans must also be updated annually.

Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida and left mass destruction in her wake. These storms are not something that have happened often in the past, but we can expect them to happen more often in the future. The deaths in the nursing homes that occurred in Florida from soaring temperatures without air conditioning in the facilities can be prevented.

Emergency preparedness plans can help facilities to know when to contact officials, who to contact, and what steps to take to prepare for the care of well-being of the most at-risk patients. Work with a company who is knowledgeable in emergency management and can help track at-risk patients during a disaster.

After NOVEMBER 15, 2017, care providers must be compliant with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Emergency Preparedness Rule standards as published in the Federal Register. These regulations require agencies to adopt a comprehensive disaster preparation plan. WatchPoint AtRisk Registry is a SaaS solution that meets the new Communications Plan provision, as well as the Policies and Procedures requirements.

Free Emergency Preparedness Guide