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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Is Your Healthcare Facility Hurricane Ready?

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D. Director, Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Rachel Lehman, Program Analyst, Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection
Published Date: 6/4/2021 10:59:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures;

Eight tips to help your healthcare facility avoid supply chain shortages and infrastructure disruptions during hurricane season

The Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) community has tirelessly worked to address supply chain challenges presented over the last sixteen months. Healthcare facilities have had to manage supply chains stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic, worker scarcity, backed-up ports, and the 2021 Texas freeze. The next supply chain challenge facing the HPH community is likely to be the 2021 hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted that the 2021 hurricane season will have above-normal activity with 13 – 20 named storms, six to ten of those storms becoming hurricanes, with three to five major hurricanes. During hurricane season, healthcare facilities are vulnerable to cross sector infrastructure failures, inadequate supplies to meet demand during medical surge, and lack of redundancy throughout the supply chain. These supply chain challenges may be compounded by existing COVID-related complications and will require healthcare facilities to be aware of current and anticipated shortages and to thoughtfully plan their approaches to acquire and manage products.

Here are eight things you can do at your healthcare facility to keep your organization prepared for supply chain disruptions that could occur this hurricane season.

  1. Review and update hazard, vulnerability, and threat assessments to include hurricane season events that could significantly disrupt supply delivery or compromise current supplies. Identify alternate methods and routes for deliveries based on predicted hazards.

  2. Forecast your healthcare facility’s needs. It will be helpful to analyze the 2020 hurricane season to determine your facility’s supply needs and proactively try to obtain these supplies to help prevent possible shortages. Plan to have discussions with your facilities distributors, wholesalers, and group purchasing organizations so you can factor in their hurricane season plans into your forecasting. Anticipating supply needs, and capacity for receiving and storing them, are key activities leading up to and during hurricane season.

  3. Review mutual aid agreements within your healthcare coalition or with other healthcare facilities. Ensure your facility is ready to activate mutual aid agreements during hurricane season.

  4. Establish Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) or Memoranda of Agreement (MOAs) with supply chain stakeholders. MOUs and MOAs can help manage additional support expectations needed during hurricane season.

  5. Establish an alternate communications plan with distributors. In case your facilities primary means of communication fails during a hurricane, have communication backup in place with your distributor to ensure your facility understands your distributor’s shortages and delivery issues.

  6. Establish an alternate distributors list for critical supplies. Establishing alternate distributors is key to ensuring supplies during hurricane season. Be sure to understand location, transport time, and potential interruptions in delivery for any alternate distributors.

  7. Define triggers for activation of emergency plans and ensure your facilities’ emergency plans include procedures for requesting supplies and managing disruptions.

  8. Define thresholds for changes to standards of care. Implementing crisis standards of care is a last resort but it is crucial to plan for so healthcare facilities are prepared to manage patient surge and allocation resources effectively.

To learn more about preparing your healthcare facility for possible supply chain disruptions during the 2021 hurricane season check out these resources from ASPR and other federal government partners.

ASPR’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) is actively tracking the 2021 hurricane season and other emerging issues at the intersection of disaster health and critical infrastructure protection. To learn more about ASPR’s CIP program and how it can help improve your organization’s ability to respond, recover, and prepare for threats and incidents impacting the nation’s health critical infrastructure visit the ASPR CIP webpage.


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