People all along the east coast are stocking up on supplies and hunkering down to prepare for Winter Storm Jonas, which has already dumped a deluge of freezing rain and snow on several southern states. As of this moment, roughly one in every four Americans have been issued weather advisories.
The severity of Jonas is expected to worsen as the storm crawls its way north. Coastal states and major cities - such as Washington, DC and New York City, and Philadelphia - have been warned to prepare for blizzard conditions, strong winds and coastal flooding, which may last until Sunday. Hospitals are taking measures to protect their facilities, patients, and staff from potential dangers and emergency.
Here are some easy steps to prepare your hospital or practice for natural disaster:
Backup Equipment & Supplies
Invest in a backup generator and water pumps, even if you don't think you'll need it. Make sure you have emergency supplies of the most critical items, such as water, blood, salt (to reduce slippage on black ice or frozen ground), shovels, snowblowers, etc.
Restrict electoral operations
In an emergency scenario, there is no reason to endanger patients and use up your staffs' valuable time by having them perform operations that are not medically necessary. Prioritize the needs of your patients based on immediacy.
Before disaster strikes, you should have a plan to distribute the medical resources you have among the hospital wards. Make sure you save your scarce health resources for those who (a) are most in need of immediate care and (b) most likely to survive if treatment is provided.
Set up hotel partnerships
It's a good idea to create some friendly relations with nearby hotels. If you plan to keep your hospital open during a severe natural disaster, your staff will need a place to stay overnight, and hospital beds are a resource that should be saved for patients in need. If a disaster strikes unexpectedly, you will have a positive relationship with a hotel who will be more likely to cooperate.
Plan & train with your local law enforcement agencies
Maintain closer relationships with your local fire department, police department, and emergency medical services. Work with these agencies to coordinate a plan of action if and when a natural disaster strikes - these relationships will help you prepare and respond to emergency situations, and your staff will feel much safer and cooperative.
Rethink your hospital design
If your water, electrical generators, and backup supplies are in the basement of your facilities, think about moving them up a few floors if possible. In the case of a flood emergency, this equipment will be lost first, creating an infrastructure emergency along with a natural disaster emergency. For example, hospital administrators at the Veteran Affairs facility in New Orleans re-designed their building with electrical units and emergency rooms on higher levels after the facilities were knocked out of service during Katrina.