Many healthcare services are shifting from hospitals to home healthcare facilities, which means a lot of healthcare employees might not be participating in organized emergency preparedness drills like they would if they were based in a larger facility.
As such, Serenity Hospice in Texarkana, TX, faced challenges when it came to preparing for disasters—especially after experiencing several tornadoes and being in the same area as the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
“We had a nursing home hit by a tornado that did not have a shelter-in-place plan,” said Sheryl Pierce, R.N., M.S., quality assurance performance improvement director at Serenity Hospice. “They evacuated all the patients, but since they had never done a drill, they had no list of where they sent the patients or a list of medications that they would need. The nursing home had 120 to 220 patients, and the emergency preparedness just wasn’t there.”
So Serenity Hospice took action to get prepared. Employees organized a disease outbreak drill to identify disaster response weaknesses. And the hospice worked with other hospices, assisted-living facilities, long-term care facilities, and local, state, and national agencies to learn how to better prepare for a disaster.
In September at the 2016 Federal Emergency Management Agency Individual and Community Preparedness (ICP) Awards ceremony, held at the White House, Serenity Hospice received America’s PrepareAthon!SM in Action award for its outstanding efforts in disaster preparation.
Pierce said the community is now more prepared for emergencies than it was before their participation in the PrepareAthon! drill. In fact, after experiencing the first major flood in Dallas in 25 years, Serenity Hospice was able to provide full service to its patients and never lost access to vital supplies.
“My greatest moment was seeing how smooth everything went during the real event,” said Pierce. For more information about other ICP award winners’ efforts, click here.
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