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Safe & Ready

Why your business might not survive a disaster

By Michael Boardman, CEO/Founder, Readiness Associates

Record wildfires scorched California, Hurricane Maria plunged Puerto Rico into the longest blackout in U.S. history, and Hurricane Harvey produced unprecedented rainfall amounts in Texas. All of those disasters occurred in 2017 alone.


At a time when natural and man-made disasters seem to occur with alarming frequency, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sought to ensure that governmental agencies and health care providers were adequately prepared to handle these events.

As a result, the CMS Emergency Preparedness Program was implemented on Nov. 15, 2017. The program requires that these organizations perform risk assessment and planning and develop policies and procedures, a communications plan, and training and testing program.

Is your organization prepared?

The CMS goal was an “all hazards” approach that would allow for a “timely, collaborative, organized, and effective” response to such events as pandemic flu, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, power outages, chemical spills, and nuclear or biological terrorist attack.

“Preparation, planning, and one comprehensive approach for emergency preparedness is key,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Chief Medical Officer Patrick Conway, M.D., MSc, in a Sept. 8, 2016, CMS news release announcing the program. 

People’s needs don’t stop during a crisis

“As people with medical needs are cared for in increasingly diverse settings, disaster preparedness is not only a responsibility of hospitals but of many other providers and suppliers of healthcare services,” said Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for response and preparedness, in the same news release. “Whether it’s trauma care or long-term nursing care or a home health service, patients’ needs for health care don’t stop when disasters strike; in fact, their needs often increase in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

“All parts of the healthcare system must be able to keep providing care through a disaster, both to save lives and to ensure that people can continue to function in their usual setting. Disasters tend to stress the entire healthcare system, and that’s not good for anyone.”

You’ll need help to come into compliance

CMS requires that facilities come into compliance with the requirements within one year from implementation. To meet that approaching deadline, businesses would be well advised to seek the assistance of professionals who can deliver complete health, safety, preparedness, business continuity and resilience services to assure that companies and healthcare organizations are ready for disasters and emergencies.

CMS requirements are mandatory, and businesses should meet them with professional services that focus on client process, creating customized plans driven by interviews, drills, and evaluations. In short, they need a resource partner to assure their Emergency Preparedness Programs are current and reliable.

Disasters are occurring more frequently

Man-made and natural disasters are increasing worldwide, and so will the demand for solutions that help workplaces execute a well-designed plan for immediate response anytime, anywhere, ensuring that any organization — especially healthcare organizations nationally — is CMS compliant while preparing teams and their families to be safe, ready and prepared.