We may be at the tail end of hurricane season (June–November), but it’s necessary to stay vigilant. In the past few months alone, we have seen the tragic effects of Hurricanes Fiona, Ian and Nicole. According to the National Centers for Environmental Information’s U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather & Climate Disasters 1980-2022 Analysis, two tropical cyclone events (Fiona and Ian) have caused losses exceeding $1 billion as of Oct. 11, 2022. Hurricane Ian caused $1.8 billion in damages to Florida’s agriculture alone. The full amount of the impact is still being calculated.
The Centers for Disaster Philanthropy believe Hurricane Ian is likely to be Florida’s deadliest tropical storm since 1935. We haven’t seen the full after-effects of this storm yet, either. While Hurricane Ian was officially declared “over” on Oct. 2, healthcare continues to feel the effects. According to the CDC, many survivors of the storm and those who are helping rebuild were infected with Vibrio Vulnificus, a bacterium that lives in warm seawater and can enter the body through external wounds. In events like this, the strain of a natural disaster on communities and healthcare facilities can be felt long after the storm subsides.
Watch the Radar
Disasters can directly impact a facility’s ability to provide care, so the speed at which facilities are able to monitor situations, adapt and recover is crucial. Planning for the aftermath of a natural disaster is just as important as preparing for the event to hit your community.
When severe weather is in the forecast, it’s time to put your preparedness plans into motion. Ensure strategies and teams are in place to monitor the administrative documentation for healthcare facilities. Personnel should be tasked with saving receipts, taking “before” photos of the facility, and obtaining local assistance so facilities have all the necessary information for proper insurance submissions. These are all necessary in order to secure the full benefits of the facility’s insurance policy.
Know the Risks
Facilities that know they are at risk for disasters can turn to FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants
for funding to provide mitigating measures to reduce natural disaster loss before natural disasters occur. This reduces long-term risks to people and property, and helps break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and later repeated damage. Not only does the facility benefit from Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants, but the community does, too. FEMA will help to pay 75% of the expenses needed to mitigate future disaster losses.
Understand Assistance Programs
When a hurricane makes landfall in the U.S., FEMA is there to help state, local, tribal and territorial governments and certain private nonprofit organizations respond and recover. For private and not-for-profit healthcare facilities and systems, FEMA’s Public Assistance Program
can help with costs not covered by insurance. FEMA will reimburse 75-100% for services such as debris removal, overtime pay for workers, procurement of specialized equipment like generators, and repair of damaged equipment and infrastructure following natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires.
This is where early preparations come into play: Facilities with the proper receipts, photos and other documentation of working with local governments are more successful in receiving FEMA’s full assistance.
Apply for Assistance
FEMA works closely with each state’s emergency management agency. Both federal and state organizations are necessary to helping communities recover, just as healthcare facilities are. It is vital for healthcare facilities to work with agencies in the wake of an emergency to rebuild and ensure facilities are receiving all the monetary assistance they can. Local county or city emergency management agencies are sometimes able to assist in securing funding as well, so be sure to continue to build and grow relationships with these agencies.
With the rise of natural disasters in both frequency and destruction, it is more important than ever for healthcare facilities to prepare for the worst-case scenario and have a plan to recover quickly and effectively.
From our Medxcel family, we send our deepest condolences to those who have been impacted by hurricanes and other natural disasters this year. There is no time for preparation like the present. Our nation’s healthcare facilities are crucial in times of crisis and disaster. Facilities that prepare today are better equipped to recover from emergencies tomorrow.
Are you seeking assistance with your facility's emergency preparedness? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-633-9235 to learn more about our services.