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.
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s newly updated Health Center Program disaster relief page compiles guidance about Change in Scope for Temporary Sites, FTCA coverage, and 340B enrollment during an emergency.
CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule Webinar Series
See the archived 2017 webinar series provided via a partnership between Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, the Primary Care Emergency Preparedness Network, and NACHC.
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
Emergency Preparedness for Special Populations: Residents of Public 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.
Contingency Planning Resources (Available in English and Spanish)
In the event of an unexpected occurrence, an organizational contingency plan can serve as a health center’s backup plan or alternate course of action. NACHC provides this document as a brief guide that outlines some specific strategies and ideas for health centers to consider when implementing a contingency plan that addresses financial and operational risks.
Financial and Operational Contingency Planning: Strategic Tips for Health Centers
Download a copy for your health center at: mylearning.nachc.com!
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
Resources for Applying for FTCA Coverage for Volunteers
In response to HRSA’s policy on FTCA coverage for volunteers, NACHC produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to provide comprehensive guidance to the field regarding the operational implementation of this new policy. NACHC produced both English and Spanish versions.
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 or April Lewis, NACHC’s Director of Health Center Operations Training and EMAC Liaison.
For additional Training and Technical Assistance resources on emergency preparedness, check out the Health Center Resource Clearinghouse, a shared project of BPHC’s 20 National Cooperative Agreement organizations.