Healthcare Facilities And Emergency Preparedness

New insights from ARC Document Solutions focuses on the role of facility management during emergency events and for CMS compliance.

ARC Document Solutions, a company that provides technology and document tools for every stage of the facility life cycle, has shared insights into “7 Critical Ways to Prepare for Healthcare Facilities Emergencies”. The company’s white paper on this topic focuses on the role of facility management in emergency preparedness.CMS compliance

As the ARC paper states, “When emergency strikes and lives are at stake, communities rely on healthcare providers. For healthcare facilities, an emergency is any event that affects the facility’s ability to provide medical care. An emergency in a healthcare facility (hereinafter “hospitals”), is far different than what’s considered an emergency in any other facility. In a hospital, emergency preparedness requires extensive planning, documentation and communication. Because of this, facility managers at hospitals must make special preparations.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) divides hospital emergencies into three categories: natural disasters, man-made disasters and technological disasters.1

Meanwhile, as most healthcare facilities managers already know, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expanding compliance requirements for hospitals and emergency preparedness. Catastrophes like September 11, Superstorm Sandy, and, more recently, Hurricane Harvey led to the CMS establishing new emergency preparedness rules. Recently, CMS compliance activities finalized a rule to “establish consistent emergency preparedness requirements for healthcare providers participating in Medicare and Medicaid.” The new rule requires hospitals to develop and maintain policies and procedures; communication plans; and training and testing.

Most notable to facility managers, though, the ARC Document Solutions paper notes, is the CMS compliance mandate for developing “an all-hazards approach” focused on functions “that are critical to preparedness for a full spectrum of emergencies.”

The white paper covers the three categories of emergencies, plus the seven functions that facility managers are involved in. As the paper states: The list of hazards that facility managers face is almost limitless. A key principle of hospital emergency preparation lies in identifying the critical functions that allow hospitals to continue providing medical care.2 The NFPA identifies seven such functions.

  1. Communications
  2. Resources and assets
  3. Safety and security
  4. Essential utility
  5. Clinical support activities
  6. Exterior connections
  7. Staff roles

The paper also notes, “The facility manager plays a pivotal role in every stage of an emergency—from preparing and responding, to mitigating damage and recovering. But no hospital can be prepared for all hazards. With that in mind, emergency managers need a flexible framework from which to respond to emergencies. Towards that end, emergency preparation should be based off a “hazard vulnerability analysis” that identifies potential hazards and the resulting effect on the hospital’s ability to provide services.”3

Further insight is available in the ARC Document Solutions white paper. “7 Critical Ways to Prepare for Healthcare Facilities Emergencies” is available for free download on the ARC website (registration required).

1 Jonathan Hart, “Health Care Emergency Management: Preparing for All Hazards,” National Fire Protection Association.

2 Hart, “Health Care Emergency Management: Preparing for All Hazards,” National Fire Protection Association.

3 Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hospital All-Hazards Self-Assessment,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.