Looking at the tropical weather map this morning, it occurs to me that our friends on the North East coast may be experiencing some very unpleasant weather over the weekend. Because we have experience in hurricanes, I am going to list the things that I think are most important to weather the storm and I encourage all my Gulf Coast and Florida Readers to contribute anything that may help our friends that are visited by Earl over the weekend.
- Follow your emergency preparedness plan. I am assuming that all states require one. If you have never been involved in mass evacuations, you will learn that the plan is more than a regulatory exercise.
- Medicines. Medicines. Medicines. Patients need a complete, accurate list of medications. After Katrina, it was a nightmare trying to determine what displaced people took. When asked, patients will say they take a white pill for sugar or the purple pill. Yay Nexium for that marketing campaign.
- Medicines again. If possible, ensure that your patients have a two week supply of medications. Often the state will allow Medicaid patients to pick up medications early when a hurricane landfall is expectected.
- BACK UP YOUR DATA. TWICE.
- Keep track of patients. It is wonderful when a patient is going to weather the storm at a family member’s house. But after the storm, you need to locate your patients and will require contact information to get in touch with them.
- Contact the electric company to let them know the address of any patients who are dependent upon electricity for oxygen, IV pumps, etc.
- Call your state OASIS coordinator to determine how to deal with patients who go to hospitals for shelter. Otherwise, your hospitalization rate can skyrocket.
I am sure there is so much more. I am counting on all my Gulf Coast and Florida readers to add to the list.
Finally, if your agency is off the path of the storm in an area that is likely to receive evacuees, remember that natural disasters are NOT marketing events. If you are called upon to see a patient who has been temporarily evacuated, call the original agency and visit them under contractual arrangement. This will mean less paperwork for an agency overwhelmed by a storm and will clean up your karma.
Having experience with hurricanes, I am praying that our friends on the northeast coast are spared. If they are not, let’s do everything we can to help them.