Emergency Preparedness Month is a Reminder to Always Remain Ready
A Time to Reflect, Focus on Resilience
As we head into the last quarter of 2020, health care systems and workforce throughout Pennsylvania continue to show amazing resilience. Since late February, the entire health care community has been deeply engaged in COVID-19 response, including efforts to control and contain the virus, and care for patients. The pace of this event persists; it clearly is a long-term effort that involves a whole of community response.
Pennsylvania health care facilities have responded to COVID-19 in a collaborative and multidisciplinary fashion. Some have worked hard to keep COVID-19 from affecting their patients, health care workforce, and communities. Others have treated and recovered some of the most seriously ill patients. Still others have focused on engaging innovation by partnering with academics to develop new PPE and strategies for optimization.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care community has performed truly incredible work, placing the needs of Pennsylvania patients at the forefront. Health care providers have tirelessly worked together to save lives under extreme and difficult circumstances. Environmental services professionals have ensured a safe, sanitized setting for our patients and limited visitors. Administrative teams have found ways to manage health care from afar, while ensuring their facilities continue to offer the world-class care Pennsylvanians have come to expect. These incredible individuals have spent tremendous amounts of time away from families in order to care for others and sustain health care services in our communities.
Preparedness Month, All Year Long
Traditionally, during September, we observe National Preparedness Month, a time when we can promote to all the importance of being prepared for disasters to occur. This year’s theme, “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today,” reinforces the importance of having an emergency plan. Especially given the uncertainty of the impacts of COVID-19, it is critical that everyone—including health care workers—do what they need today to prepare their family and home for potential emergencies.
We have learned that when our health care systems are stressed, care providers will respond.
Having a plan that includes family and pets reduces stress on providers and also helps them to continue to fulfill their health care roles during disasters.
When making a personal preparedness plan, ask the following questions:
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- How will I communicate with family and friends?
- What will we do if I/we have to shelter in place, quarantine, or evacuate?
- Is our preparedness kit updated with the latest information/paperwork and fresh supplies/medications?
- In what ways do we need to update our plans and strategies to adapt to any COVID-19 guidance or restrictions?
- Are there any specific needs of my household to consider?
- Age differences
- Dietary requirements
- Medications and medical needs
- Pets and service animals
Where do we go from here?
September 2020 marked a number of anniversaries that have tested our health care resilience. From 9/11 to Hurricane Katrina, we continue to learn from every event the poses a threat to our systems. These large disasters will stress each part of the heath care community, forcing us to adapt to meet an ever-changing hierarchy of needs. Nevertheless, however, our health care systems will continue to rise to the challenge, often at the expense of personal and organizational wellbeing.
There is so much to think about when we’re in the middle of a long-term crisis and facing new threats each day. Rest assured that the HAP emergency preparedness team will continue to work to support Pennsylvania’s hospital community and remain ready to address threats as they arise, and to support the health care workforce that gives so much to the commonwealth.
I encourage everyone to take some time during the last quarter of the year and answer the questions above and talk to your loved ones about your emergency plans. The peace of mind we have from being prepared will create a health care workforce that is ready and resilient—something that will pay dividends down the road.
Scott started his time with HAP as the Regional Manager in Emergency Management, covering the South Central and South Central Mountains regions of Pennsylvania. Prior to coming to HAP, Scott worked for the Penn State Health, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, PA as the Manager for Emergency Preparedness and spent 15 years as the Deputy Director for Emergency Management with the Montgomery County, PA Department of Public Safety.
Additionally, Scott served has served in various roles including firefighter, paramedic, fire and EMS officer and hazardous materials technician and continues to maintain certification in all areas.