Prepare Your Facility for Hurricane Season with a Contingency Staffing Plan

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

female and male nurses with arms crossed looking at camera wearing face masks

Ready or not, hurricane season is here again. And this year, it comes at a critical time, as some states are struggling with a new surge of the coronavirus. For those facilities not yet prepared for the challenges ahead, it’s time to consider implementing a contingency staffing plan to help you weather the upcoming storm.

True, this year isn’t predicted to be as intense as last year’s record-breaking storm season, which saw the emergence of 30 named storms. Yet even an average season of about 15 tropical storms can be a serious challenge. And in a year when many facilities are already running with a threadbare staffing plan, any major disruption could spell disaster.

As John Morales points out at NBC Miami, “we’ve heard many times that it only takes one, like in the inactive year of 1992 when Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida.

“Hurricanes like Andrew are multiplying,” he adds. “And with a greater percentage of hurricanes becoming category 3, 4 and 5 monsters, our chances of being struck by one of those buzz saws are increasing even in average storm seasons.”

If your facility doesn’t yet have a contingency staffing plan for the upcoming hurricane season, here’s a quick rundown of what you need to know.

Why Contingency Staffing Is More Important than Ever

Once mostly limited to the American Southeast, hurricane season now affects a huge swath of the country. From Texas and Missouri in the Midwest through the eastern Gulf States, it’s a problem that doesn’t just affect the South. Northern states like New York and Delaware have also been hit hard by the effects of hurricanes in recent years.

And those effects can indeed be intense, and even dangerous. Widespread power outages, displaced populations and workers, even flooded hospitals and nursing facilities are all par for the course. And the need to evacuate and emphasize the safety of your workers and patients means dealing with hurricane season not in the abstract, but as a serious operational threat that may not only shut you down but expose you to unwanted liability.

This probably is not new info for you. No matter what part of the country you operate in, you’re unfortunately susceptible to some form of natural disaster. From hurricanes and tornadoes to fires, floods, deadly heat waves, the number of destructive weather events seems to grow each year. The intensity of these events, and the number of lives they affect, also grows each year.

The question is, how can administrators and leaders successfully manage their workforce during a time when essential staff are already in short supply? Though there may not be a single, silver-bullet solution, there is one thing you can do to prepare your facility as well as possible: Integrate a contingency staffing plan, stat.

How a Contingency Staffing Plan Can Help Your Facility

How does a contingency staffing plan help you deal with the potential side effects of a major hurricane or other unforeseen events? Most immediately, it can give you access to a new, larger pool of nurses and clinicians. And as Covid-19 surges again in the southern states, few facilities are in a position to turn down that kind of benefit.

Of the three main “contingency capacity strategies” recommended by the CDC to mitigate potential workforce shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic, one is the use of additional healthcare providers, like travel and per diem nurses. And the other two — adjusting staff schedules and rotating workers to better support patient care — can be more readily achieved with the help of those additional workers.

To back up this recommendation, the nation’s health licensing authorities have made special allowances for contingency staffing during the pandemic. For instance, facilities that operate in states within the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) can get instant access to an enormous pool of nurses — many more than their local labor pools. Similar compacts exist for therapists and other clinical workers.

In addition, if you choose the right contingency staffing partner, you can also be assured that the nurses and clinicians you staff are fully screened, credentialed and licensed. And a partnership with the right company is also a good way to ensure that you have access to the contingency workers you need in the months and years to come.

The bottom line? Whether your region is more susceptible to hurricanes, wildfires, floods or any of the other natural disasters that are coming more and more intense each and every year, your healthcare or hospital disaster plan isn’t going to be effective without a reliable contingency staffing plan in place to support it.

And there’s no better way to meet that goal than partnering with a healthcare managed services provider (MSP) that can give you access to the travel and temporary workers you need to make sure that your facility continues to meet its patient care obligations, even during the most challenging times.

Get a Customized Contingency Staffing Plans from CareerStaff

At CareerStaff Unlimited, we specialize in helping you create and fulfill the contingency staffing plan you need to meet the challenges ahead. For more info, contact us today to set up a consultation with a CareerStaff expert, or request contingency staff now.

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