In this the anniversary of Katrina/Rita, the need for coordinated planning and response guidelines that are universal for medical facilities is more important than ever before. The medical community gets input from HHS, DHS, FEMA, OSHA, CMS, Joint Commission, ISO, and many others on what is the "best practice" but as of yet there has been NO definitive single authority from which all others take direction. It is time to pull private and public medical providers out of the "vacuum" mentality and incorporate them into the critical infrastructure and make them a strong part of the plan as opposed to the distant cousin in the response and recovery efforts that we have seen up to this point.
I recognize that HHS has the Hospital Preparedness Program through ASPR, but funding is only a portion of the needs. Strong, clear, unified, well founded, and executable guidelines for putting all hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities on the same page of music with the same foundations that were established by NIMS a few years ago. Planning, preparedness, HVA, Mitigation Plans, inclusion of HSEEP, inter-agency coordination (from EMS/Fire/PD through acute care and ending in extended care, transfer to specialty units, or discharge), and the rest of the areas needs to be evaluated for best practices and documented in a single source document, or set of documents, so that our participation in the "big picture" is as well coordinated as our counterparts in disaster response.
As an Emergency Manager to a large hospital in the nation’s capitol and member of a chain of hospitals throughout the US, I see the need for a unification of direction and expectation for medical facilities with one authority. There are too many agencies and organizations claiming to have the “only acceptable method” for providing emergency management efforts to medical facilities only to see their resources outdated, lacking, or without any substance whatsoever.
I respectfully request that DHS/FEMA, in conjunction with HHS and its supporting departments, work to establish a single-source guideline for all aspects of emergency management within the medical community. This would include a representative for hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities (in addition to Public Health organizations) be included in representation at these discussions.
Kent M. Schod