fah hospital policy blog

Perspectives on health policy affecting America’s hospitals and the patients we serve.

In the Eye of the Storm: FAH Members Emergency Services & Crises Response

February 14, 2020 | FAH Policy Blog Team

Category: Health Care Delivery

FAH member hospitals are prepared 24/7/365 to come to the aid the communities they serve to minimize the spread of disease or in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.

When a dangerous storm is approaching – our teams jump into action. Carefully crafted plans are executed to make sure hospitals are ready to continue caring for the patients inside and remain open for those in need.

Hurricane Katrina was a watershed moment for the hospital industry. The historic floods in New Orleans devastated medical facilities across the city. FAH member companies learned from that terrible tragedy and their work since can be credited with saving countless lives.

In 2017 as Hurricane Harvey neared the Texas coast, HCA Healthcare activated their storm protocols – many of which were created after Katrina. They prepared their facilities for possible flood waters and planned for evacuation scenarios. It worked! Patients and employees survived the storm. Once the rain stopped and the wind died down, HCA employees from across the country mobilized to help patients and their co-workers recover from the storm. You can read more about HCA’s efforts during and after the storm here.

Similar scenarios played out at Universal Health Services (UHS) hospitals. Employees in affected areas worked around the clock to provide care to those taking shelter at UHS facilities, with one patient saying, “We were seen promptly and appropriate testing was ordered. I know that many of the staff there were working multiple shifts and several were brought over from another hospital. They all need to be highly commended." To learn more about the efforts by UHS staff in times of crisis click here.

FAH members have also been in the eye of many other recent storms including Category 5 Hurricanes Irma and Michael. Each time our hospitals were there to serve and protect patients.

Sadly, many of the mass shootings over the past several years have also impacted communities served by FAH members.

When a gunman opened fire at the Route 91 Music Festival in Las Vegas chaos ensured. Hundreds of victims flooded the emergency rooms of HCA’s Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, as well as Summerlin Hospital Medical Center and Valley Hospital Medical Center – both operated by UHS.

According to news reports, staff at each facility handled the overwhelming situation with a sense of calm and caring. They made sure each patient received the best care possible and are credited with saving numerous lives. The companies and their employees say the response was made possible by great training and protocols. They were prepared for the unthinkable and knew exactly what to do when it happened. You can learn more about the response from HCA here and UHS here.

Unfortunately, preparing for these unimaginable incidents is a reality for hospitals. From El Paso to Orlando, Virginia Tech to Columbine and many others – FAH member hospitals have found themselves in the middle of tragedy. Each time, thanks to careful planning and execution, the staff have acted in heroic fashion – caring for the injured in a swift and organized way.

At Tenet Health, company leadership makes sure their hospitals are ready for anything. Tenet deploys Hospital Incident Command Center teams at all its acute care facilities for any “extreme weather, floods, fires, earthquakes, utility failures, infectious disease concerns or other active threats, as well as major events happening in the immediate proximity of our operations.” You can learn more about Tenet Health’s emergency preparedness efforts here.

Our hospitals are also ready when public health emergencies arise. From treating people who had the Ebola virus in 2015 to those infected by coronavirus/Covid-19 currently, FAH members are ready with the equipment and technology to make sure they can care for the sick and minimize the spread of these deadly conditions.

But these are just a few anecdotes of the many lives touched by tragedies and the heroic men and women of FAH member hospitals who go above and beyond to take care of their communities. Regardless of size or location, our hospitals are ready to provide around the clock emergency services and essential crisis response. The size and scope of our members provides them the ability to respond to crises in an organized, holistic fashion, whether it be transferring patients in an emergency evacuation or sharing resources. These facilities stand prepared to respond with the tested experience needed to save lives in communities across the country.