Top 5 Key Solutions for Hospitals and Healthcare Facility Hurricane Season Preparedness

Updated on June 18, 2024

The upcoming hurricane season is anticipated to be busier than usual. The apex of tropical activity in the Atlantic typically falls on September 10th, with the majority, about two-thirds, happening between August 20th and October 10th. As we shift from an El Nino phase to a La Nina phase, meteorologists at StormGeo predict a particularly intense hurricane season for the Gulf Coast, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic Seaboard. 

With potential impact to shore, it is crucial for hospitals and healthcare facilities to be ready to address potential effects and strategize for the most severe outcomes to cater to the requirements of patients and staff.  As emergency coordinators, facility managers, and healthcare organization leaders begin to prepare for this season, there are five keys to minimize risk during tropical activity. 

Weather Awareness

As the hurricane season approaches, it is important for healthcare administrators to be weather aware. Utilizing site-specific weather forecasts can enable facilities to better understand how weather events will affect their facility directly. These forecasts provide detailed information about potential weather threats, allowing facilities to anticipate the severity of incoming storms. Understanding the specific risks posed to the facility can ensure that there is adequate staffing, necessary supplies, and implementation of emergency plans and protocols. 

Emergency Response Plans

Emergency response plans are indispensable for healthcare facilities during the hurricane season. These plans provide a structured approach to manage and minimize the impact of hurricanes on healthcare services. They ensure the safety of patients, staff, and infrastructure by outlining procedures for evacuation, sheltering in place, resource allocation, and communication. In the face of a hurricane, healthcare facilities are often confronted with power outages, structural damage, and increased demand for medical services. Having a well-defined emergency response plan allows facilities to continue providing critical care under challenging circumstances. It also aids in swift recovery and restoration of normal services post-disaster. Emergency response plans are not just a regulatory requirement, but a vital component of patient care and safety. 

Incorporating contingency plans into the emergency response strategy is crucial, particularly during hurricane season. These plans address potential disruptions to essential services, communication, and supply chains, which are often compromised during severe weather events. The loss of power, for instance, can halt critical medical equipment, while communication breakdowns can impede coordination efforts. Contingency plans provide alternative solutions and backup systems to ensure the continuity of care under these challenging circumstances. They outline procedures for utilizing backup power sources, alternative communication channels, and secondary suppliers. By preparing for these eventualities, healthcare facilities can maintain their operations and continue to provide essential care to their patients, while facing unexpected challenges.

Hurricane Drills

Hurricane drills are essential for healthcare facilities preparing for hurricane season because they provide a practical and effective method for testing and improving emergency response plans. These drills allow hospitals and facilities to identify potential weakness in their current procedures and make necessary adjustments to ensure the safety and well-being of patients, staff, and visitors. In the face of a tropical weather event, facilities must continue to operate and provide critical services. Therefore, drills help ensure that the facility can maintain operations during a weather event, protect valuable medical equipment and supplies, and provide uninterrupted care to patients. By regularly conducting hurricane drills, healthcare facilities can enhance their preparedness, reduce the potential damage of impact, and ensure an objective, swift, and efficient response when a disaster strikes. 

Employee Scheduling

Employee scheduling is a critical aspect of healthcare facility operations, particularly during hurricane season. The onset of a tropical weather event often leads to road challenges, including blockages and unsafe conditions, which can significantly impact staff availability. A well-planned employee schedule ensures that there is sufficient staff on-site to manage the increased workload, even when some employees are unable to report to work due to transportation issues. Furthermore, severe weather often results in a surge of patients due to injuries, illnesses, or the need for shelter, thereby increasing the demand for healthcare services. Effective employee scheduling allows healthcare facilities to optimize their resources, ensuring that they can meet this surge in demand and continue to provide high-quality care. 

Infrastructure Checks

Infrastructure checks play a key role in preparing facilities for hurricane season. These checks ensure that the facilities are structurally sound and capable of withstanding the severe weather conditions that hurricanes bring. They involve inspecting the building’s foundation, roof, windows, doors, and other vulnerable areas for potential weaknesses. Additionally, infrastructure checks also include assessing the readiness of critical systems such as power supplies, water systems, and communication networks. By identifying and addressing these issues in advance, healthcare facilities can ensure uninterrupted service during hurricanes, safeguarding the health and safety of patients and staff. Moreover, these initiative-taking measures can significantly reduce repair costs and recovery time post-hurricane. 

The preparation for hurricane season in hospitals and healthcare facilities is a multifaceted process that requires meticulous planning and execution. Weather awareness, emergency response plans, hurricane drills, employee scheduling, and infrastructure checks are all integral components of this preparation. By staying informed about potential weather threats, healthcare facilities can anticipate and mitigate the risks associated with hurricanes. Emergency response and contingency plans ensure the continuity of care during these challenging times, while hurricane drills help identify potential weaknesses and improve response strategies. Effective employee scheduling ensures adequate staffing levels to meet the increased demand for healthcare services during a hurricane. Lastly, infrastructure checks ensure the structural integrity of the facilities and the readiness of critical systems, thereby safeguarding the health and safety of patients and staff. These measures not only help healthcare facilities withstand the impact of hurricanes but also enable them to recover swiftly and efficiently post-disaster, ensuring the provision of uninterrupted, high-quality care to their patients. 

Staci Saint Preux
Staci Saint-Preux
Industry Manager and Meteorologist at StormGeo

Staci Saint-Preux is an Industry Manager and Meteorologist for StormGeo. As part of the sales team, she has a crucial role in serving current and prospective clients in the Retail, Healthcare, and Midstream Oil & Gas industries. Prior to her time at StormGeo, Staci worked as a flight planner and meteorologist for a private aviation company in Houston. With a degree and background in meteorology, Staci understands the importance of accurate weather data and forecasting and knows the value of having a team of weather experts on your side.