HCA Healthcare prepares for 2023 hurricane season

HCA Healthcare prepares for 2023 hurricane season

Today, HCA Healthcare is proud to announce our preparation efforts for the 2023 hurricane season. Each year, HCA Healthcare’s Enterprise Emergency Operations Center (EEOC) creates and distributes key resources to its facilities to maintain continuity of care across facilities, so that patients and communities can continue to count on HCA Healthcare.

With dozens of hospitals in hurricane-prone regions like Florida, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia, HCA Healthcare works diligently to stay up to date on current and expected weather trends. During the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, HCA Healthcare’s hurricane forecasting partner currently predicts there will be approximately 15 named storms, including 7 hurricanes.

HCA Healthcare’s disaster response starts long before a hurricane makes landfall. On May 31, the company held its annual enterprise-wide hurricane readiness briefing to update and equip hospitals ahead of the season. Hospital, division and corporate leaders met to be educated on the season’s weather outlook, review the company’s 2023 Hurricane Playbook and prepare for the upcoming season.

“We owe it to our patients to be able to care for them when it is needed most. Our preparedness efforts are a prime example of how we’re showing up for our patients, colleagues and communities.” 

Sam Hazen, chief executive officer of HCA Healthcare

The Nashville-based EEOC responds to approximately 900 events annually and is comprised of nearly 200 multi-disciplinary leaders, including risk management, clinical experts, supply chain, patient logistics, air and ground transport and community liaison representatives. During hurricane season, EEOC leaders leverage strategic partnerships with weather forecasting agencies and utilize real-time alerting technology to continuously monitor threats and evolve response plans and programs. As soon as the EEOC identifies a potential severe weather event, HCA Healthcare begins preparations to help provide affected hospitals with everything they need to continue providing care.

Working across HCA Healthcare’s network, the EEOC can redirect the company’s supply chain to get medical supplies, equipment and care teams to impacted areas to offer assistance. The EEOC prepositions resources, including temporary generators, bulk water and fuel supply. This year, HCA Healthcare is stationing Incident Support Unit Trailers equipped with 3,000 Flood Control Barriers and storm readiness equipment, in both its Gulf Coast and West Florida divisions.

In the event of an evacuation, the company uses EvacuNATE, an algorithm developed by HCA Healthcare, which helps to reduce hospital evacuation time using real-time triage data to track every patient’s movement and where alternative care is available. To strengthen HCA Healthcare’s ability to respond to emergency events, the EEOC introduced Incident Response Teams in 2020, comprised of skilled clinicians, leaders and executives from across the HCA Healthcare enterprise. In 2022, in collaboration with a strategic air transport partner, the company established a first-of-its-kind Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Incident Support Team (NICU IST) consisting of highly skilled HCA Healthcare nurses and respiratory therapists to help transfer NICU patients during an emergency.

HCA Healthcare IST colleagues standing in front of plane.
In April 2023, HCA Healthcare expanded our Incident Support Team training in Smyrna, Tennessee to help support the transfer of patients should disaster strike. The team is comprised of highly specialized nurses, respiratory therapists and AirMethods pilots from across the country.

“Our job is to ensure the infrastructure is in place—the supplies, equipment, buildings and everything it takes to deliver care — and that our colleagues and patients are taken care of. We are proud of our response to previous major incidents and strive to make our procedures even more seamless so that continuity of care remains uncompromised.”

Michael Wargo, RN, BSN, MBA, PHRN, CMTE, vice president of HCA Healthcare’s Enterprise Emergency Operations & Medical Transport
HCA Healthcare colleague in scrubs unloading bags of ice from a truck.
Frontline caregivers and support teams in Florida worked tirelessly to respond to Hurricane Ian. In the days immediately following the storm, HCA Florida Healthcare colleagues impacted by the storm were provided access to free fuel, laundry services and shower trucks as well as a mini-mart stocked with essentials.

For more than 50 years, HCA Healthcare has been preparing for, responding to and learning from various emergency scenarios and extreme weather events like hurricanes. Last year, when Hurricane Ian made landfall on the west coast of Florida as a powerful category 4 hurricane, causing extensive damage to communities in its path, HCA Healthcare jumped into action to care for our patients and communities. Leaders from HCA Healthcare and its EEOC mobilized ahead of the storm to help ensure hospitals had the resources, including medications, food, water and generator power, to care for patients and colleagues. In the aftermath, HCA Healthcare’s human resources and supply chain teams set up on-site mini-marts, fuel stations, showers and laundry services in Florida to assist facilities, colleagues and nearby health systems in need.

HCA Healthcare also announced it would give up to $1.5 million towards disaster relief efforts through donations to the Governor’s Florida Disaster Fund and the American Red Cross as well as colleague matching gifts. The HCA Healthcare Hope Fund, an employee-run, employee-supported 501(c)(3) charity that provides financial aid and resources to employees after an extended illness, injury, disaster or other special situations, provided approximately $1.2 million in grants to colleagues impacted by the hurricane.

HCA Healthcare colleagues at a large table discussing hurricane preparations
In September 2022, HCA Healthcare’s Enterprise Emergency Operations Center (EEOC) supported HCA Florida Healthcare hospitals impacted by Hurricane Ian.

Over the last six years, HCA Healthcare has provided more than $5.6 million in financial support to the Red Cross for disaster relief efforts, including Hurricane Harvey in 2017, hurricanes Florence and Michael in 2018, and the Texas winter storms and Kentucky tornadoes in 2021 and during historic flooding in Kentucky. For the last four years, HCA Healthcare has contributed a total of $1.75 million to the Red Cross’ Annual Disaster Giving Program (ADGP) which helps the Red Cross respond immediately to disasters, helps families during the recovery process and prepares people for future emergencies.

About HCA Healthcare

HCA Healthcare, one of the nation's leading providers of healthcare services, is comprised of 182 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.

Recent articles