Emergency Preparedness Month

August 24, 2022

National Preparedness Month: Ensuring Safety Through Preparation

Healthcare providers work tirelessly every day to protect the well-being of their patients, but an unsafe and inefficient work environment could result in unnecessary stress on healthcare staff. Creating a safe healthcare workplace is important to support the people who care for others. And now is a great time to assess your plan for preparing a safe healthcare work environment through a wide range of challenges.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), along with 3,000 local, regional, and national governments, as well as private and public health institutions, recognize September as National Preparedness Month. This is a good time for healthcare administrators to review their organization’s resources and reporting systems to effectively prepare for emergencies, ranging from man-made disasters to severe weather to virus outbreaks. Taking proactive steps to assess risk factors in an organization and early problem solving can help alleviate stress among healthcare professionals and ensure the organization is ready to respond to an emergency should it arise.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Emergency Preparedness Rule

The Emergency Preparedness Rule is a set of regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requiring certain healthcare providers to take steps to prepare for natural and man-made disasters.

The Emergency Preparedness Rule requires organizations to develop emergency preparation programs following four key components:

  • Risk assessment and emergency planning. Healthcare administrators should assess their organization annually, identify key risk factors, and address them within the emergency plan. For instance, healthcare organizations in an area at risk of tornados should create a corresponding response plan in their emergency preparation efforts.
  • Communication plan. Healthcare organizations should have a clear plan for communication during an emergency. This should address multiple stakeholder groups such as healthcare providers, patients, and government agencies.
  • Policies and procedures. Organizations should keep clear, specific emergency preparation and response policies. All employees need to understand their role in the event of an emergency.
  • Training responders and testing the plan’s effectiveness. All emergency response plans should involve regular employee training and emergency drills to help ensure the plan will effectively address the situation.

The Emergency Preparedness Rule applies to organizations’ preparation for weather hazards, influenza and viruses, and other disasters that may impact healthcare spaces.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration: Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires most organizations to have an Emergency Action Plan and a Fire Prevention Plan to raise employee awareness of the hazards that correspond to different crises and to instruct employees on how to respond. OSHA defines a workplace emergency as any event that “threatens workers, customers, or the public, disrupts or shuts down operations or causes physical or environmental damage.” Fostering a trusting relationship with your employees and confirming you understand applicable regulations before a crisis can help save time and avoid panic when an incident occurs. Stericycle’s Steri-SafeTM program offers customers emergency preparedness plan templates and a safety plan builder, a step-by-step guide to creating your plans.

Helpful Resources: Premade Toolkits

The Center for Preparedness and Response posts a digital toolkit that demonstrates how to disperse information among employees. Healthcare administrators can customize the template to fit the company’s standards and current resources.

Reporting Emergencies

Though situations may vary in damage, urgency, and resources, there are some consistent criteria for when to notify responders. To remain adaptable for any emergency, leaders should learn when and how to report to first responders and regulators in various scenarios.  

Partner with Trusted and Reliable Vendors

One way to help prepare for and manage disasters and unexpected circumstances is to consult a trusted and reliable partner. Working with a service provider, such as Stericycle, which has a nationwide footprint, a truck fleet, responsive team members, and open customer communication networks can aid healthcare organizations in working through problems and taking proactive steps. It is important to cultivate a strong network of providers, like Stericycle, which can deliver the necessary services for your emergency prevention and management.

How Stericycle Can Help Healthcare Facilities During Emergencies

Stericycle helps healthcare organizations prepare for how emergencies affect an increase in their medical waste. Our comprehensive services and robust nationwide infrastructure help healthcare facilities provide services during outbreaks, natural disasters, and other states of emergency such as Ebola, H1N1, Hurricane Katrina, and COVID-19. Stericycle helps prepare you to keep your customers and employees safe, even during unpredictable circumstances.

Learn more about how Stericycle can serve as a key partner to healthcare organizations during emergencies. 

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