Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Natural Disaster Response on WIHI

Mark P. Jarrett, MD, MBA, Chief Quality Officer, North Shore-LIJ Health System
Mark J. Solazzo, MBA, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, North Shore –LIJ Health System 
Joseph Cabral, MS, Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer, North Shore-LIJ Health System

Hurricane Sandy first struck the Caribbean and then the entire East Coast of the United States at the end of October 2012. The storm smacked into New York and New Jersey especially hard, impacting millions. The story of how the largest health care system in the region, North Shore–LIJ, operated throughout to ensure patients and staff were protected and supported, under fierce circumstances, is one that communities and hospitals everywhere can learn from. This is our focus for the May 16, 2013, WIHI: Reliable Practices for Responding to Natural Disasters: Lessons from North Shore-LIJ and Hurricane Sandy, featuring three leaders from NS-LIJ who were responsible for every kind of decision imaginable before, during, and after the storm.

Some of the decisions included transferring hundreds of nursing home residents out of harm’s way, taking in patients from other hospitals, assisting at area shelters, buying up fuel for ambulances, and opening up a resource center for hospital staff whose homes and neighborhoods had been torn apart and flooded. One of the back stories to NS-LIJ’s response is the degree to which it was built upon critical lessons learned during Hurricane Irene, a year before. In 2009, there was the H1N1 outbreak. In each instance, the health system did things well, and saw where it fell short; now that Hurricane Sandy has come and gone, this same type of assessment continues.

Health care organizations and first responders must prepare for many types of crises and disasters. Reflecting on the recent Boston Marathon bombings, which killed three and seriously injured over 200 (NEJM, April 24, 2013), authors Arthur Kellermann and Kobi Pelag write, “The best way hospitals can prepare is to base their response on a strong foundation of daily health care delivery.” So, routine and reliably safe practices, guided by continuous quality improvement, is lesson one for emergency planning. WIHI host Madge Kaplan invites you to bring your experiences and your interest to this timely discussion on May 16.

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