National Preparedness Month: Prepared to Care

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Sign that says Are You Ready with stormy background

In an emergency – natural or man-made – everyone stands up for the benefit of the community and does what’s right: care for people. That’s why we recognize September as National Preparedness Month, plan for emergency situations, and remain at the ready for our communities in times of need.

The success of preparedness is, first and foremost, having a plan in advance. Building solid relationships within that plan and before a disaster strikes are equally as important.  Take, for instance, the recent storms in Florida that resulted in a lightning strike and a subsequent power outage at affiliate Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point on last Wednesday. Coordination from local emergency agencies – an estimated 70 emergency medical services (EMS) ambulances, 10 fire engine companies, 10 local sheriff units and three ambulance buses – our HCA Healthcare West Florida hospitals and, of course, the tireless efforts of the Bayonet Point team, more than 200 patients were successfully evacuated without incident.

Ambulances lined up

The HCA Healthcare corporate office, led by Emergency Preparedness, in collaboration with our West Florida Division, remained in constant communication with Bayonet Point to provide our full support and any resources needed before, during and after the storm. From Nashville, we helped facilitate the delivery of a high-powered generator at Bayonet within the hour.

Situational awareness is critical for emergency preparedness, too. Every licensed HCA Healthcare hospital has an emergency management committee to access potential hazards in the region – chemical, technological or weather-related – and to plan accordingly.

When the rain began to fall in Louisiana three weeks ago, our Women’s & Children’s Hospital disaster response team came together immediately to determine how to shelter in place and prepare and distribute meals to patients and staff. Their hospital, thankfully, was undamaged, but their emergency plan was in put into place at the earliest possible time – and that’s what we instill in all our facilities across the country.

As one of the leading healthcare organizations in the nation, with 26 million patient encounters per year, it goes without saying that people are our priority. Whether it’s a hurricane in Florida or a flood in Louisiana, we are prepared to provide the most effective coordination of care and uninterrupted patient service in our communities.

Here are some steps you can take to prepare for emergencies, too:

  • Have a family plan – Everyone should know where to meet in an emergency; single individuals should communicate this information with family and friends in the area;
  • Understand the risks – What natural hazards are common in your region? Know those risks and have a plan to relocate to a safer area in advance and have information on how to protect your home;
  • Prepare an emergency kit – Have those critical everyday items ready to go with you and every family member you’re caring for, including, but not limited to, a three to five day supply of prescriptions, eyeglasses, a change of clothes, and bottled water, for example.

National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort encouraging Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies. Visit Ready.Gov here for more tips to help plan for an emergency.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 183 hospitals and more than 2,300 sites of care, in 20 states and the United Kingdom. Our more than 283,000 colleagues are connected by a single purpose — to give patients healthier tomorrows.

As an enterprise, we recognize the significant responsibility we have as a leading healthcare provider within each of the communities we serve, as well as the opportunity we have to improve the lives of the patients for whom we are entrusted to care. Through the compassion, knowledge and skill of our caregivers, and our ability to leverage our scale and innovative capabilities, HCA Healthcare is in a unique position to play a leading role in the transformation of care.

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