The Healthcare Standard

How Do Hospitals Know What To Do When Hurricanes Approach?

We all expect hospitals to be open and operating when we need them, but extreme weather events like hurricanes are a strain on resources and pose significant challenges for hospitals.

Closing a hospital is an extreme action, but several hospitals in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina did just that before the arrival of Hurricane Irma in 2017.

With more than 300 hospitals and a higher share of older adults than any other state, emergency plans for Florida’s hospitals were a critical issue facing emergency planners during those storms. This is true now as well as Hurricane Dorian approaches the state.

As a professor of urban planning, I have studied emergency planning and evacuation and also co-authored an extensive report on how hospitals coped with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav. Hospitals plan for catastrophic events, but there are always lessons to be learned.

Hospitals try to stay open and to care for patients already hospitalized and for those who suffer injury or illness from a storm. Here’s how they do it.

 

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