No one knows exactly what Hurricane Irene has in store for New Jersey, but our healthcare community has prepared painstakingly to ensure New Jersey’s safety. (It’s a bit ironic that my last blog entry was an ode to New Jersey’s shore towns, and one week later those same communities are bracing for what could be the storm of the century.)
Hospitals, by their very mission, are prepared for emergencies. We are in the business of saving lives and protecting the public health. That’s never more evident than at times like these.
Hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare providers have formal plans in place for an array of emergencies, including hurricanes. For the better part of this week, healthcare facilities have made numerous preparations. Among them:
- Ensuring adequate staffing to care for patients. Many staffers will spend the next 48 hours or longer at their hospital. In fact, physicians, nurses and other employees in New Jersey’s evacuation areas in many cases evacuated directly to the hospital.
- Discharging patients, when appropriate. Hospitals will try to reduce their “census,” in the event evacuations are needed or in case they are called upon to shelter others from the storm. Our post-acute partners like nursing homes and home health agencies are an important part of this process.
- Ensuring access to a sustainable source of alternative power.
- Testing communication systems. Hospitals use backup forms of communications, including 800 Mhz radios, to ensure they have access to emergency and law enforcement officials in the event that telephone and Internet communications are not available.
To those healthcare professionals working throughout the storm, thank you. And to all New Jersey residents, heed the warnings, take precautions and be safe.