South Florida Hospital News
Saturday October 31, 2020
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June 2010 - Volume 6 - Issue 12
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Floods, Funnels, and Forecasts Disaster Emergency Plan for All Emergencies

Today, HospiceCare of SE Florida has to think in terms of all types of emergencies. In Florida, hurricanes used to be the only emergency/disaster we considered, however, since 9-11 that has changed and changed dramatically.

While our patients and their families are important, of equal importance are our staff and their families. So all the preparations we do for our patients and families should be done by ourselves and our families. These are the members of our organization who can implement our emergency/disaster response plan and de-activate the plan.
 
One member of the Senior Management Staff is sufficient to start the plan in action. Generally, it is a consensus of several, or all, of the members. The Operations Team oversees the needs and evacuation of patients as well as the resumption of regular operations when the all clear has been sounded.
 
HospiceCare Senior Management will receive information and warnings requiring the implementation of the emergency plan from the television, Internet, radio, members of the Safety Committee, or other staff members. Communication is of the utmost importance so HospiceCare of Southeast Florida requires that all staff maintain charged cell phones, and when the emergency disaster plan has been activated, all staff even if you are not technically on call, are to respond to communication requests by answering your phone, test messages or emails.
 
As a team, we can help each other through a highly stressful time. All staff who volunteer or are assigned will be locked in for the duration of the emergency or until relieved. It is our goal to relieve staff at the earliest, safest moment. Assignments will be given to staff to assure that all patients and staff are safe starting with making contact with each patient and family.
 
HospiceCare will take into consideration the needs of the staff and their families, but we also need to work together so no one has to work the entire emergency without assistance or relief. Patient/Families fill out a Disaster Activation Form to tell HospiceCare if they will evacuate and the location they will be going to, along with the name and phone numbers of their contact person.
 
Each patient, staff member, and volunteer is provided with the HospiceCare of Southeast Florida Hurricane preparedness brochure. This brochure contains all the pertinent information including shelter locations, how to register for special needs shelter accommodations, and how to prepare to remain at home. Clients will be assessed for special needs shelter or the higher acuity special needs shelter registration by the HospiceCare staff. Education is provided to patients on taking their own medications and our pharmacy delivers a two week supply of medication upon emergency activation. All staff should do this same thing for themselves and their family member’s medications.
 
All staff are to off the road when the winds reach a sustained speed of 39 miles per hour.
I
nformation will be shared with Television and Radio Stations – so you are able to remain informed about the status of HospiceCare, its offices, and when the all clear is sounded.
 
After Wilma – the campus in Broward required hours of debris removal. We were without power, in spite of having a generator, for two weeks.
 
Pre-planning for our families safety, and monitoring our patients for medications that need to be re-ordered routinely will assure that staff will be able to “tuck” our patients in, then be home with their own families to complete their preparations for the emergency.
 
This is why it is so important that we encourage our patient/families, and we all do this as well to be prepared – lay in supplies prior to June 1st. Also, preventing the spread of a communicable disease during an emergency is important by good hand washing, covering your sneeze with your arm, and sanitizing your belongings including your phone.
 
Please keep in mind that an alternative site may be one of HospiceCare of SE Florida’s offices, i.e. If Miami is hit by a hurricane or another emergency, the Broward or Monroe offices can be an alternative site.
Pat Byrnes is Director of Administration for HospiceCare of Southeast Florida, Inc. For more information, call 1-800-HOSPICE or visit www.hospicecareflorida.org.
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