Friday, November 9, 2012

Not All Hospitals & Police Departments Are Ready for a Crisis

Yes, I know, hospital administrators and police chiefs will react strongly to the title of today's blog.

The problem is, we're not talking about the same kind of "ready."

Most hospitals have disaster plans. That is a plan or plans to cope with a disaster in the community they serve.  Just like many police departments that have plans for disasters, demonstrations and other disruptions in their communities.

BUT, most do NOT have a crisis plan for a crisis that strikes their facility or department.

We have worked with some very good hospitals, big and small, since the Institute for Crisis Management was born in 1989.  Most of them could rise to the challenge when disaster struck the communities they served.

Disasters like tornadoes, flooding, a major airplane crash, a mass shooting, and a bus crash with many victims, usually bring out the best in the staff and leadership of hospitals and the leadership and beat cops of police departments.

But, what if the crisis is within the hospital or department?  Then they are not so prepared.

Hurricane Sandy hammered that lesson home in New York City. New York University Hospital and Bellevue Hospital could not take care of their patients when their power and back-up power systems failed.

A few years ago flash flooding closed a regional hospital in Columbus, Indiana and forced the evacuation of hundreds of patients.  The hospital administrators had plans for many of the things that could go wrong in the community they served, but had never stepped back and examined all of the things that could go wrong in their own facility.

Their medical records, the hospital lab, the pharmacy were all in the lowest part of the facility and below the level of a nearby creek.  Heavy rains led to flash flooding around and in the medical center.

It was months before the hospital was back in full operation.

The leaders of every kind of organization should regularly step back and consider what could go wrong and what "must" be done to prevent that, or at least minimize the recovery time.

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