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Medical Disaster Support showcased in an ER room with medical devices being maintained

Natural disasters can throw a wrench into any medical facility’s operations — from damage to power outages and more. While it’s impossible to know what to expect from a natural disaster entirely, there are plenty of steps you can take to better protect your patients, staff, and facility during and after a natural disaster. 

Preparation is key. It is impossible to know the full extent of damage that a disaster event will cause to our facility and surrounding communities. By having a plan in place for increased patient intake, damage mitigation measures, and device maintenance and repair plans, you and your staff will be better equipped to make informed decisions faster and more confidently during a natural disaster. 

“If you’re not prepared for sudden surges in demand for acute and emergency care, then you will compromise not only the incoming disaster patients but also existing emergency department and hospitalized patients,” Mashid Abir, M.D., M.Sc., assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan said. 

Hospitals should anticipate a range of risks surrounding storms and other disasters. Potential facility and equipment damage and an increased number of patients are consistent factors. But facilities should also prepare for potential medication shortages, mental health needs, and nonfunctioning home medical equipment. 

“When transferring evacuated patients to alternate facilities, it is key to utilize electronic health records to make patient records available to receiving facilities where possible,” Abir said. “You have to create the full picture of a patient’s health for the receiving facility to preserve the continuity of care. Otherwise, you’re starting from scratch.” 

An influx of patients during and after a natural disaster or transferring between facilities means that more medical equipment needs to be monitored and serviced to ensure optimal operations. A higher volume of patients may require more staffing, shifted the allocation of equipment and patient locations, and more. 

“Hospitals can go on lockdown or experience operational obstacles during natural disasters like hurricanes,” Brandon Karas, Manager of JumpTeam Operations at InterMed said. “Intermed can offer engineers or staffing that help with general operations, emergency repairs, and even helping to move equipment into another facility.” 

Having a plan in place with a service provider like InterMed offers a partner in emergency scenarios equipped to deal with a variety of unpredictable situations following a natural disaster. More patients and potential damage to the facility and equipment place a considerable strain on staff. Their priority should be the shelter and care of incoming patients. The increased stress and potential equipment movement requires more hands-on-deck to keep operations running as smoothly as they can.  

“JumpTeams are a great solution for natural disasters occurring,” Karas said. “During a natural disaster, it’s possible for a hospital to become overloaded or over capacity with patients. More patients means more equipment that needs to be monitored or services to ensure it is operating up to expectations.” 

With a diverse array of services from preventative maintenance to equipment repair and transfer and more, JumpTeam engineers are trained to prepare for any situation and help your facility navigate unfamiliar obstacles and circumstances during a natural disaster. 

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, your facility may also have damaged equipment, especially if your facility experienced an intense storm or flood event. 

“In the aftermath of hurricanes or floods, a lot of equipment will be compromised and not go through repair,” Karas said. “In a lot of cases, it’s safer actually to purchase new equipment. Our engineers can help identify which devices need repair and which need to be completely replaced.”

InterMed is here as a resource and partner in navigating all stages of a natural disaster, from planning and preventative measures to exploring options for damaged equipment after a disaster has passed. Get started on your disaster planning. Talk with InterMed today. 

SOURCES:
https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/industry-dx/ripple-effect-how-hurricanes-and-other-disasters-affect-hospital-care