Hospitals and healthcare professionals must be increasingly prepared for covering shifts during inclement weather. Due to climate change, extreme weather events like hurricanes, super storms, and massive floods are becoming more common. This places a bigger challenge on caregivers as they must offer the same refuge and healing in the middle of a storm or hurricane. In order to become more resilient, you must prepare your hospital for natural disasters. Below are some tips to help you out.
Find ways to function without power.
In a severe hurricane, the first thing that you will lose is power. As such, it is essential to place measures that will allow the entire hospital to function on pen and paper. Print all necessary forms in advance, have plenty of pens to go around, be ready to handwrite H&P, and figure out ways to identify patients, proceed with billing, create rounding lists, and communicate with nurses in the old fashioned way.
Ready a ride for hospitalists.
Gas pumps run on electricity and whatever is left inside the cars of your healthcare providers can only go so much. Help your staff get to and from work by readying a van with the sole purpose of ferrying caregivers. Other personnel who have gassed up can also help further by giving team members a ride.
Consider installing combined heat and power (CHP) systems to keep the hospital running despite super storms. These cogeneration systems produce heat and electricity from a single fuel source, such as natural gas or biomass. With CHP in place, the strain on a community’s energy infrastructure is lessened and fuel consumption is reduced dramatically. Retrocomissioning is another effective strategy. In retrocomissioning, low cost alternatives to energy-intensive operations are identified and implemented to conserve energy and save up on energy-related expenses.
Consider hurricanes in redesign efforts.
In places prone to extreme flooding, redesigning is critical to the delivery of healthcare amid inclement weather. Emergency rooms are usually located on the ground floor, for example, but if you are considering the effects of a hurricane, it is best to move it to a higher floor along with electrical units, generators, and kitchens. Installing floodwalls may help, too. These guarantee that essential services are protected and available despite the negative effects of a hurricane.
Promote a culture of self-sufficiency.
Physicians, nurses, and every member of the healthcare team covering a storm must bring clothes that will last for a week, plus toiletries, medications, non-perishable food, and provisions for sleep like pillows and an air mattress. There are times when relievers are delayed so it is best to be prepared. Having supplies at work with you takes some of the stress off. Other things that come in handy are a hand-cranked radio, flashlight, headlamp, remote phone chargers, and extra cash.
Effectively manage fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
For the healthcare team to deliver quality care, it is important that everyone gets to rest and have a break. Workingwith a tank running on empty hardly benefits anyone. Caregivers must make an effort to sleep before doing a shift. A healthcare professional who is able to look after himself will be more efficient in looking after patients. Also, be proactive in managing stress and anxiety. Focus on solutions, work as a team, and do not be swayed by the emotional pull of the moment.
Hospitals provide comfort to people in times of disaster, so the healthcare team must be ready to fulfill their role and help the community. However, this will only happen when the hospital itself has systems in place in preparation forinclement weather.