Checklist: Disaster Preparedness for Healthcare Facilities

Paper reading "Emergency preparedness checklist" with pencil on top

Spring is here, with summer soon to follow — and that means severe weather is on the way. From tornadoes and hurricanes to wildfires and flash floods, most of the country is at risk of some type of natural disaster. (And as we’ve learned from Covid-19, those events aren’t always climate-related.) With that in mind, disaster preparedness for healthcare facilities should be a priority for every leader.

Disaster Preparedness for Healthcare Facilities

Luckily, there are some proven methods for ensuring disaster preparedness for healthcare facilities. Here’s a quick checklist to consult to make sure your organization is ready for the worst-case scenario.

✓ Consult the CMS checklist

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) covers the essential steps of disaster preparedness for healthcare facilities with the Survey & Certification Group Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

This downloadable document is the U.S. government’s official template to follow for a declared public health emergency (PHE) situation (such as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic). It also serves as an appropriate starting point for disaster planning in general. Every facility should download and consult it for guidance on the basics of emergency preparedness, including:

  • Gathering all relevant documents together in a safe place, such as contacts and state or local planning regulations or requirements
  • Creating a continuity of operations business strategy
  • Developing a facility-wide evacuation plan
  • Formalizing staffing requirements and defined staff responsibilities during a crisis
  • Communicating procedures for emergency alerts and for coordinating staff, patients, and families
  • Training all staff in basic emergency procedures, with ongoing refresher sessions

> Get started: The CMS checklist is a comprehensive list, and should be at hand in every facility. You can download it here.

Skilled nursing and long-term care facilities should also consult the Survey & Certification Emergency Planning Checklist for Long-Term Care Facilities to understand resident care standards in the event of a disaster or emergency situation, and what to expect should an ombudsman follow up after an event.

Get Your Third-Party Vendors in Order

Using third-party vendors is a necessity for most organizations these days. But managing those vendors can be a challenge, particularly when disaster strikes. Don’t be stuck without communications to essential service providers during an outage — get your vendors in order with a vendor management system (VMS).

A healthcare VMS works as a single partner to manage all of an organization’s third-party interactions from one centralized hub. While the direct goal is to leverage automation and create a centralized point of contact to make vendor management easier and ensure quality, a healthcare VMS is also an essential tool for coordinating vendors during a time of crisis.

> Get started: Learn more about healthcare VMS here.

✓ Implement a Crisis Staffing Plan

A disaster or PHE takes just as much of a toll on healthcare workers as everyone else. Nurses and clinicians can get sick during a pandemic. And during a natural disaster, they may be prevented from getting to work due to transportation disruptions.

Covid-19 has only underlined the necessity of having an active crisis staffing plan at all times. Luckily, specialized workforce partners are available to help fill this important role. Partnering with a crisis staffing partner gives your facility fast access to a nationwide pool of highly skilled clinical workers when you need them most, helping to ensure continuity of care even during the most challenging times.

> Get started: Learn more about crisis response staffing here.  

✓ Find a Backup Workforce Solutions Provider

Does your facility have a go-to source for contingency workers like travel nurses? Do you have a vendor that can help ensure that vital workforce services like recruiting, hiring, billing, and invoicing continue as normal, even during a public health emergency? If not, it’s time to back up your staffing plan by partnering with a workforce solutions provider.  

From comprehensive, turnkey managed services to a-la-carte help with recruiting, vendor management, or other workplace needs, a workforce solutions partner is a good way to help ensure staff continuity throughout the year — even during a crisis. And when you partner with a company with a nationwide footprint, you’ll be giving your facility access to essential workers from all corners of the United States.

> Get started: Learn more about healthcare workforce solutions here.

We Can Help Ensure Disaster Preparedness for Healthcare Facilities

Looking for a partner to help with disaster prep and other clinical workforce needs? At CareerStaff Unlimited, we’re proud to put our Joint Commission-Certified® staffing and recruitment services to work for facilities of all types, all across the U.S. Contact us today to discover how we can help you ensure patient care during a disaster or any other time of year.

Contact CareerStaff