When severe weather strikes, patients rely on their hospitals to continue serving the community during and after a disaster. For rural communities, severe weather has the potential to cause major disruption to a healthcare system due to a lack of resources.

hurricane.jpgMore than 46 million Americans live in rural areas and depend on community hospitals for care. Preparing for a tornado emergency in rural communities, such as the devastating tornado that ripped through Mississippi in late March, will set facilities up to respond and recover smoothly. With more tornadoes predicted to impact new areas of the country in the coming years, health systems must be prepared to support rural facilities and their communities before, during and after these types of disasters.
Preparing Across Teams
Whether the facility is getting ready for tornadoes, hurricanes, snowstorms or other severe weather, a thorough emergency plan can help ensure your facility can recover quickly from a disaster without diverting attention and resources away from patients. Teams need to begin preparing months in advance for potential weather events. By integrating safety and emergency management operations into daily management and compliance, hospitals establish a state of readiness to continue providing a safe healing environment for their patients.
Working from an all-hazards approach to disaster planning, health systems must proactively educate associates on disaster relief guidelines and designate appropriate resources to respond. For each community, planning starts with analyzing the past to identify possible improvements. Recognizing the current vulnerabilities and events of the past, rural hospital emergency plans should include how to prepare for a patient surge, coordinate patient transfers and consider the community’s needs to continue operating safely during severe weather.

With resource limitations in rural communities, health systems should focus on building a resilient supply chain to ensure facilities will continue securing the resources they need ahead of any crisis. Once a disaster hits, it’s all hands on deck, and recovery efforts cannot be paused to secure additional supplies.
A Smooth Response and Recovery
Rural hospitals’ emergency preparation must encompass additional considerations, including plans for transporting patients to higher levels of care. In rural communities, transportation to and from the hospital during severe weather events can be difficult.
At Medxcel, our landscaping teams not only beautify the overall landscape but also ensure the safety of associates and patients getting to and from the hospital. Advances in technology, including StormGeo alerts, help them identify the potential of severe weather and snow events, which can pose a different risk for rural communities as access to the property itself can become hindered.
With an ever-present focus on safety, landscaping teams may need to clean roadways or clear building entrances to make sure the hospital is accessible to all personnel and patients. The team may have to move fallen trees or plow snow from the main surrounding roads to make it easier for ambulances to transport patients.

All responding leaders and associates should be looped into alerts for the potential of severe weather and snow events. Facility managers and health system leaders should have a strong communication network established to coordinate with appropriate teams to respond to issues including power outages to coordinate plans of action. Communication across emergency response teams within the community is also essential. At Medxcel, we partner with local, state and federal emergency management teams to align response initiatives and ensure your needs are met in times of greatest need.

The primary goal of emergency preparedness is to prevent vulnerabilities and eliminate risks of damage and harm by establishing a sustained state of readiness to support communities through disasters. Medxcel has refined data-driven processes to help you plan for, respond to and recover from natural disasters with vulnerability analyses and preventive tactics. Request a consultation to find out how we can help your hospital system prepare for the next disaster so your team is ready.