The severity of recent natural disasters across the nation, along with the Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2016, has made emergency preparedness a point of emphasis for healthcare facility managers across the nation. On November 15, 2017, participating healthcare facilities will be required to meet the new CMS requirements as a Condition of Participation. The new rule requires preparedness for both natural and man-made disasters including, but not limited to, influenza and virus outbreaks, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, flooding power outages and cyber and terrorist attacks.
In order to be successful, the emergency preparedness plan must be unique to each facility based on its physical location and susceptibility to certain natural disasters, patient population, condition of existing facilities, etc. The emergency preparedness plan typically should address the following:
- Identification of specific hazard(s)
- Mitigation of hazard risks
- Preparedness plan
- Response plan
- Recovery plan
Traditionally, emergency preparedness of hospital mechanical and electrical systems included provisions to supply emergency power and reserve fuel supplies to operate critical and life safety systems. However, this approach is no longer adequate to meet the goal of the CMS rule which is to safeguard human resources, maintain business continuity, and to protect physical resources during a disaster. Emergency preparedness plans should now address all utilities including water, gas and electric as well as communications systems. The plan should be a prepared in collaboration with local emergency medical and fire services, public health entities, local law enforcement and utility providers.