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. Part of this process includes planning with your community and developing a comprehensive, all-hazards Emergency Management Plan (EMP) for your health center. An EMP will formalize and define your health center’s role, both internally and externally, in an emergency. It is important that your patients, staff, and community partners are familiar with your plan so that they can help your health center during an emergency response. History has shown that organizations and agencies that have a coordinated, thorough, and well-exercised plan are better able to save lives, protect property, and recover more quickly.
Successful all-hazards emergency and disaster planning is focused on preparing for a wide range of events. An EMP that clearly defines and describes policies, procedures, roles, responsibilities, tasks, and specific operational actions as they pertain to each emergency support function, before, during, and after an emergency, is invaluable. 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 the EMP is 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.
Health Centers – Assistance Before, During, and After Emergencies and Disasters. This compendium highlights the diverse and substantial ways that CHCs assist communities before, during and after emergencies and disasters. The stories enclosed demonstrate the vital role centers play in safeguarding America’s most vulnerable citizens. This document is a snippet of the overall work done by health centers nationwide.
Here are a number of resources that you may find helpful as you work to prepare your health center:
Health Center Preparedness Assessment Tools
An assessment of the preparedness level of your health center will provide you with a solid baseline against which you can measure your progress. There are numerous templates available – here are just a few from California and New York that are specific to health centers.
Emergency Management Plans
There are a number of very good templates for Emergency Management Plans specifically for health centers available. To help keep the information in this resource as up to date as possible and to keep the size of this document manageable, website information is provided for these templates. Follow the links below for the most recent version of Emergency Management Plan templates.
- California Primary Care Association (CPCA)
CPCA and the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) developed the Community Clinic and Health Center (CCHC) Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) Template in 2004. Members of the Clinic Emergency Preparedness Project (CEPP) Working Group also contributed to this publication.
- Community Health Center Association of New York State (CHCANYS)
The purpose of this template is to aid Community Health Centers (CHCs) in developing an emergency management plan that guides their response to all hazards. Included are policies, procedures and forms that create a comprehensive plan. These templates may be used to both initiate and maintain emergency management programs.
Essential Components of CHC EM Plans – Multi-tasking has become a way of life for most health centers. This crosswalk highlights how the essential components of an emergency management plan meet requirements of the Bureau of Primary Health Care Policy Information Notice 2007-15, Joint Commission Emergency Management Standards, National Incident Management System Elements, and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.
There are undoubtedly other great examples of emergency management plans developed specifically for community health centers. If you have additional templates that you would like to share, please contact Mollie Melbourne.
Hazard Vulnerability Assessments
All health center facilities are vulnerable to any number of natural or manmade hazards. An analysis of your health center’s vulnerability to particular hazards provides the foundation for building a practical and workable Emergency Management Plan (EMP). The analysis provides specific information for use in developing mitigation strategies, standard operating procedures in the event of an emergency, and in the development of the overall EMP.
The hazard vulnerability assessment identifies the hazards and/or vulnerabilities that need special attention, the actions that might be taken to reduce the impact of those hazards, and what resources are likely to be needed. The analysis should incorporate an all-hazards approach to include natural disasters, infrastructure disruptions, human-caused events and hazards, and terrorist incidents. Health centers should recognize facility-specific vulnerabilities for particular hazards based on the unique location(s) and operation(s) of each facility.
Here is an example of a Hazard Vulnerability Assessment from Kaiser Permanente. If used as an Excel Spreadsheet, it will calculate the risk for you and create graphs and comparisons that may be helpful in prioritizing your emergency management efforts. You can find this template in Excel.
Collaborating with Community Health Centers for Preparedness was developed in partnership with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). This publication outlines the work of the Task Force on Health Agency-Community Health Center Coordination in Preparedness, the roles and responsibilities of each partner in emergency responses, and provides recommendations for and examples of effective collaboration among partners. The Task Force on Health Agency-Community Health Center Coordination in Preparedness is made up of members from ASTHO, NACCHO, and NACHC. Download this publication.
Business Continuity Plan Template – Created in partnership with NACHC and Primary Care Development Corporation, this template will guide you in the process of developing a comprehensive business continuity plan for your health center.
Disaster Volunteer Utilization Toolkit – Developed by the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, this toolkit establishes recommended guidelines, procedures, and policies for the effective utilization of volunteers across the whole disaster lifecycle at community clinics. Due to the unique nature of various types of volunteers, the requesting, receiving, utilization, and demobilization process is categorized into specific sections for credentialed, affiliated, and spontaneous volunteers.
The toolkit is meant to function as just that: a toolkit. Take out the ‘tools,’ or pieces of information that are relevant to your clinic, to fill existing gaps and provide a comprehensive approach to credentialed, affiliated, and spontaneous volunteer management.
Emergencies Happen – Get Prepared Now!
This guide provides information, tools, and templates that will assist health centers as they develop and implement comprehensive emergency management programs.