South Florida Hospital News
Sunday September 22, 2019
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June 2008 - Volume 4 - Issue 12

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Broward Health Takes Action to Further Improve Communications Before, During, and After Critical Incidents

The 2008 hurricane season is fast approaching and experts are predicting that it will be quite active. Broward Health Emergency Preparedness Department wants to stress the need to make preparations in advance. Storms bring challenges at all phases - before, during, and after. Personal preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. Be proactive: Prepare today!

Disasters across the world and the busy hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005 provided many lessons. Broward Health uses these lessons to build upon preparedness, response and recovery to keep employees, patients, visitors and vendors safe.

Communication during any critical incidents (e.g., hurricanes, mass casualty incidents, computer system outages, terrorist attacks) is essential. Effective, timely and accurate communication is key to successful incident management. Broward Health uses several mechanisms to communicate during critical incidents. The most common forms of communication in health care are telephones and computers. Should either of these become inaccessible because of a storm, restoring them is imperative. Broward Health has increased its redundant phone systems by increasing the number of "power failure" phones; those that can remain operable despite loss of phone service; and the purchase of satellite phones for each medical center and corporate offices Additionally Broward Health also employs a web based Intelligent Notification system known as MIR3.

MIR3’s Intelligent Notification solutions provides two-way notification communication to facilitate the rapid delivery and response of emergency communications to and from any device, such as landlines, satellites and mobile phones, email, pagers, SMS, PDA, TTY and fax. Broward Health, as a member of the Southeast Regional Domestic Security Task Force, and community leader in providing health care in Broward County Florida has partnered with many other emergency response agencies and healthcare systems utilizing MIR3 to rapidly and reliably notify large populations of responders about the hurricane incident or disaster event.

Other mechanisms used by Broward Health during hurricane activation include partnering with various TV and radio stations to deliver information about activities and services that may need to be adjusted because of impending conditions. Additionally, dedicated Broward Health telephone hot lines are established for both patients and employees.

To keep current with IT advances, Broward Health has a robust IT Department to monitor, maintain and upgrade its software platforms. Broward Health has been moving towards the implementation of electronic medical records, and maintaining access to patient data is critical. Computer data is saved locally and at a remote site so it can be retrieved if necessary, even if the local center is non-operable. Broward Health continues to build a more resilient IT process and system with stronger firewalls greater capacity and overall resiliency.

In the event of a disaster or emergency situation, preparedness is everyone’s personal responsibility. Preparedness cannot and should not happen at the last minute. There are several steps that you should take ahead of time to be prepared. They include:

1. Stay informed. Knowing what specific actions must be taken before, during, and after those disasters or emergency situations is an important part of being prepared and may make the difference when seconds count.

2. Prepare a kit. Do not be caught off guard. Take the time to gather supplies necessary for you and your family.

3. Develop a plan. Develop a family plan and ensure everyone knows what to do, where to go, and how to communicate. Keep in mind your family’s special needs and include your pets.

4. Get involved. Be active in your community and support local police, fire departments and healthcare facilities. Collaborate with neighbors and city officials to better secure our communities and prepare for hurricanes.

Using lessons learned, Broward Health continues to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate any incident including the 2008 hurricane season, if needed.

Jeanne Eckes-Roper, Director of Emergency Preparedness, Broward Health, can be reached at (954) 712-3931 or jeckes@browardhealth.org.
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