Emergencies will happen – whether you are ready for them or not. Health centers can greatly improve their ability to respond efficiently and recover more quickly by preparing for emergencies. It is important that patients, staff, and community partners are familiar with health center plans and roles so that they can help your health center during an emergency response.
There is no one-size-fits-all list of emergency management planning considerations that can be prescribed generically for all health centers. The primary goals are to ensure that plans are supported by your health centers capabilities and that it fully incorporates all activities determined to be important for the risks and hazards likely to impact your health center.
Here are resources that you may find helpful as you work to prepare your health center.
CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule Webinar Series
NACHC is offering $50 off of this webinar series regarding implementing CMS’s continuity of operations/emergency preparedness requirements. The series is provided via a partnership between Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, the Community Health Care Association of New York State and NACHC.
Register for the webinar series (the discounted price is already reflected):
Register for an individual webinar (enter the code NACHC upon checkout):
Brought to you by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) was created to meet the information and technical assistance needs of regional ASPR staff, health care coalitions, health care entities, health care providers, emergency managers, public health practitioners, and others working in disaster medicine, health care system preparedness, and public health emergency preparedness. The resources in this topic collection can help emergency planners in these types of facilities plan for and respond to a variety of incidents.
Resources for Health Centers Experiencing an Emergency
If your health center is anticipating an emergency, experiencing a disruption in operations, or is seeking to restore services or claim damages, the below guidance is critical for your health center and your patients.
Plan Ahead for Disasters: the “Ready” Campaign
“Ready” is a national, federally-sponsored compilation of easy-to-understand checklists designed to educate and empower all individuals and organizations to prepare for, respond to and mitigate emergencies, including natural and man-made disasters. See www.ready.gov A multi-lingual page is available at www.ready.gov/languages
Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Emergency Preparedness Requirements for Medicare and Medicaid Participating Providers and Suppliers – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Final Rule
Emergency Preparedness for Special Populations: Residents of Public Housing
PHA Disaster Readiness and Preparation Guide, 2016. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Public and Indian Housing
In the past decade, Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have been affected by natural disasters. In order to protect their properties and their tenants, many PHAs have prepared emergency plans or disaster response plans to prepare staff and tenant households for emergencies. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has sought to learn how PHAs have prepared for emergencies as well as the lessons learned in the aftermath. HUD has reviewed emergency plans prepared by PHAs and engaged executive directors and staff at PHAs that have been affected by a disaster. This document discusses some of the best practices and lessons PHAs have shared with HUD based on their local knowledge and experience. This a starting point for an emergency preparedness planning process, as risks and local conditions often necessitate a tailored approach.
References to support tailored, emergency preparedness planning for vulnerable populations, including residents of public housing and individuals with disabilities and special needs.
Comprehensive website developed by the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council with resources tailored for caring for homeless individuals. Includes training videos, operational policies and procedures and resource publications for disaster planning, health care delivery during a disaster, building collaborations, and recovery recommendations.
Tracking Storm Trajectory
Knowing if your health center is in the path of an oncoming storm is critical for determining when and what to deploy in terms of your emergency preparation. Advance planning is critical for the health and safety of your patients and your staff as well as the physical status of your facilities and other assets. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA) National Hurricane Center issues advisories and mapping projections that may provide you with the extra time needed to prepare for a natural disaster. See http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/prepare/hazards.php
- Get the App – A free mobile app is available. “NOAA Weather Radar” provides real-time radar images on an interactive map enhanced with severe weather alerts and accurate weather information for your exact location.
Updated Process for Requesting a Health Center Change in Scope (CIS) to Add Temporary Sites in Response to Emergency Events – Bureau of Primary Health Care, Program Assistance Letter (PAL) 2014-05
If a health center site is displaced due to an emergency, the grantee organization can temporarily request to change their scope with HRSA in order to add temporary site addresses (for an alternate location to provide services) or temporary services (if different from what is currently on their scope). See PAL 2014-05: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/programrequirements/policies/pal201405.html and checklist: https://bphc.hrsa.gov/archive/policiesregulations/policies/pal1405cheatsheet.pdf
Federal Tort Claims Act Health Center Policy Manual, Section F: FTCA Coverage When Responding to Emergency Events
Resources for Applying for FTCA Coverage for Volunteers
Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals (VHP) FTCA Program – Bureau of Primary Health Care
2017 Health Center Volunteer Health Professional Federal Tort Claims Act Deeming Application Instructions – Bureau of Primary Health Care
Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals Webcast – Bureau of Primary Health Care
Health Center Volunteer Health Professionals Webcast Slides – Bureau of Primary Health Care
FTCA Coverage for Health Center Providers Responding to Emergency Situations – NACHC (Sept. 5, 2017)
Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990
Individuals experiencing a disaster may need immediate assistance coping with the behavioral health effects. The Disaster Distress Helpline is a toll-free call center operated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) to assist individuals in crisis as well as connect to local behavioral health professionals.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA, an agency with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, leads Federal efforts on emergency management, including preparation, response and recovery efforts to disasters.
- Get the App – a free mobile app is available. “FEMA” app is a one-stop-shop with tools and tips to keep individuals updated before, during and after disasters.
- Post-Disaster Economic Assistance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides information and guidance for disaster survivors and organizations who want to apply for economic assistance related to a federally declared disaster. See www.fema.gov/apply-assistance.
- Preliminary Damage Assessments
Following a disaster, a “preliminary damage assessment” (PDA) is conducted by federal/state/local emergency management officials to survey damages in designated areas, which may inform economic assistance provided to communities. The assessment is intended to clarify understanding of full impact, visible or not. Health centers should be prepared to complete or contribute to a damage assessment by documenting all damage as soon as possible. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides additional guidance on PDAs. See: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/109040 or https://www.fema.gov/blog/2012-03-20/what-preliminary-damage-assessments-really-mean
Emergency Resource Support for Health Centers
Health Centers can access emergency care packages in bulk from Direct Relief and AmeriCares, who are philanthropic organizations dedicated to providing health centers with immediate assistance, including cash assistance, medical supplies, personal toiletries, and pharmaceutical products. See:
Primary Care Association (PCA) Emergency Management Advisory Coalition (EMAC)
The PCA EMAC began as a national HRSA Learning Team initiative, then transferred to the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC). Over the last decade, the EMAC has grown to include representatives from the East Coast to the West with more than 80 members from nearly every state in the nation and Puerto Rico. In addition, the EMAC includes members from the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations, the National Center for Farmworker Health, and the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council and is open to all national cooperative agreement agencies that serve the needs of community health centers. Questions about EMAC? Contact the EMAC Chair Tina Wright and Co-Chair Alexander Lipovtsev.