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The premier resource for hospital professionals from Relias Media, the trusted source for healthcare information and continuing education.

Hope for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst

You’re constantly preparing for your accreditation surveys, reimbursement changes, and regulatory modifications. But are you preparing for the worst? Hospitals usually shoulder the brunt of any disaster or pandemic, so preparedness isn’t really an option anymore.

The federal government has just updated its plan on pandemic flu preparedness and response. OK, so it’s a little late for the 2011-12 flu season, but at least we’ll all be ready for the fall, right? Under the revisions, Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. will collaborate on animal and pandemic flu viruses. Sounds like a good plan, considering how heavy Mexico has been hit in recent years, and we all know how easy it is to travel from Mexico to the U.S. Under the revisions, the countries will offer mutual assistance.

“H1N1 provided a stern reminder that diseases don’t respect national borders and can spread rapidly in our interconnected world, so protecting health requires cooperation and collaboration among countries,” said Nicole Lurie, MD, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS.

In the meantime, more help might be on the way. The Senate unanimously approved the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act Reauthorization (S. 1855), which reauthorizes the Hospital Preparedness Program, the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals, the Medical Reserve Corps, and other preparedness activities through 2016. The legislation must be reconciled with a House-passed version of the bill (H.R. 2405).

As far as getting your own house in order, there are a multitude of resources. Consider these:

  • Hospital Infection Control & Prevention, published by AHC Media, which also publishes this blog, offers updates on infection control issues affecting U.S. healthcare providers. A subscription to the monthly newsletter includes access to the HICprevent blog.
  • The Institute of Medicine has released a guide to help healthcare providers develop standards for delivering care to the greatest number in a public health emergency. The report provides tools and templates.
  • The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response has issued guidance to help healthcare planners identify gaps in preparedness, determine priorities, and develop plans. The CDC recently issued similar guidance.
  • On Wednesday and Thursday, The Joint Commission and Joint Commission Resources are hosting the 2012 Emergency Preparedness Conference. The conference will examine how accreditation standards provide organizations with the framework to prepare for and continue care in an emergency.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate First Responder Communities of Practice Website is a platform for first “receivers” and other staff who work in homeland security. The site focuses on emergency response, preparedness, resiliency, planning, and management.

That’s a lot of help. So spring into action and prepare now, before the tornado, flood, fire, pandemic, or other disaster comes your way. You’ll be glad you did, and so will your staffs and communities.