When disaster strikes are Texas physicians prepared? With a resounding "yes" we must remain on high alert to ensure an effective response from Texas physicians in times of a disaster or evacuation. With the constant threat of terrorism, pandemic influenza, as well as natural disasters, TMA’s disaster preparedness resource page outlines recommendations to assist you during an emergency response situation.
Helping your practice survive an emergency or disaster
Every healthcare office should maintain written policies for addressing any kind of emergency (e.g., utility disruption or a manmade disaster) and particularly inclement weather and hurricanes. Physicians should also be aware of emergency management plans in the county or community. Click here for a list of local Texas emergency preparedness websites provided by Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Here are a few important tips for you and your staff when dealing with an emergency or disaster:
- Know where your office gas, electricity, and water connections are in case you need to turn them off. Keep back-up generators or a storage plan for your refrigerating systems.
- Protect your patient records accordingly.
- Prepare your staff with employee contact lists and information sheets so you and your staff can communicate if an evacuation is necessary.
- Additionally, the following websites offer preparedness tips for all business:
Need more information on implementing disaster policies in your practice? TMA’s new Policy and Procedure Manual provides sample disaster response policies. Click here or call the TMA Knowledge Center at (800) 880-7955 to order.
Preparedness information for your patients
Physicians can play a significant role in helping patients prepare and respond to disaster situations. Patients, especially those with fragile health, should be counseled on the importance of having a disaster plan in place for themselves and their families.
In addition, physicians can help their patients prepare by:
- Reminding special needs patients frequently of the 2-1-1 Texas system and instructing them to register with 2-1-1 if they think they will need assistance.
- Providing guidance to patients with special needs, including pregnant women and those with chronic conditions or disabilities.
- Discussing maintenance of medications and equipment during a disaster, as well as how to obtain additional medication or equipment if needed.
- Directing patients to preparedness planning resources such as texasprepares.org, and ready.gov.
Volunteer to help (Link to the Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry)
The Texas Disaster Volunteer Registry is run by the Texas Department of State Health Services. Texas physicians can sign up with the registry as a volunteer to provide medical help to Texas communities during or after a disaster.