Hospitals Fail to Take Disasters Seriously

Hurricane Sandy brought to light glaring inadequacies within some of the busiest hospitals in New York City. The worst part is that most, if not all, of the issues suffered could have been prevented. With an investment into improving current systems, especially those that relate to backup generators that are supposed to keep the lights and other critical equipment on in the face of power failure, a lot of what transpired immediately in the wake of Sandy could have been prevented.

The main issue with many hospitals is that when they prepare for disaster, they approach the response from the perspective of what to do if a major disaster happened nearby and how they would deal with the influx of patients. The fact that they could suffer from such a disaster and that their ability to treat their patients could be compromised has not been dealt with sufficiently by many U.S. hospitals.

When it boils down to it, if a hospital administrator has to choose between the latest piece of life-saving equipment or reconfiguring their power backup system, the new piece of equipment usually wins out. Add to that the misguided attitude that no one expects a disaster to be that bad where they are, which is a recipe for disaster as illustrated during Hurricane Sandy at NYU and Bellevue Hospital.

Despite repeated attempts by emergency management officials to get medical facilities to take seriously their own survivability rate in the face of such disasters, there have been few listening. When hospitals take such threats seriously is when real preparedness will happen. Expense is a main issue, according to those in the medical field. Most hospitals and care facilities focus on the now and say they can’t justify the expense that such investments in their infrastructure require. This sense of urgency is not helped by the fact that no national assessment has been undertaken to determine the status of our nation’s hospitals when it comes to surviving a disaster.

For more information about how U.S. hospitals performed during Hurricane Sandy, visit: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/03/storm-sandy-hospitals-idUSL1E8M1LR620121103