Providence, RI – August 24, 2017 – Emergency management officials, public health leaders, and healthcare facility administrators gathered at Women & Infants Hospital on Thursday for the presentation of Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes, a new playbook that will be used to advance Rhode Island’s work to safeguard the emergency power needs of critical healthcare facilities before disasters strike.
The clear, centralized guidance in Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes derives from years of emergency preparedness planning and training by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), the Healthcare Coalition of Rhode Island, healthcare facilities, and other partners. Although the event was held at Women & Infants Hospital, all healthcare facilities can use the playbook, including nursing homes, health centers, and assisted living communities, as well as other community organizations.
“Rhode Island is susceptible to power outages stemming from natural disasters such as hurricanes, winter storms, floods, as well as human-caused and technological incidents. Protecting our citizenry and critical infrastructure is the top priority of our agency. Therefore, it is crucial that we work together as a state to assist critical facilities that are dependent on power to provide support to Rhode Island’s most vulnerable populations,” said RIEMA Director Peter Gaynor.
“Climate change and cyber threats are just two of the emerging issues we must be mindful of as we look forward and work to secure Rhode Island’s power infrastructure,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “RIDOH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response has done tremendous work with hospitals and emergency preparedness partners throughout the state on planning for and training for emergencies, as well as learning from actual incidents. Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes will help smaller facilities such as nursing homes, health centers, and assisted living communities, follow their lead and ensure that all Rhode Islanders, including the state’s most vulnerable populations, will continue to get the health services and care they need during emergencies.”
“At Women & Infants Hospital, the safety of our patients, visitors, and staff is of utmost importance, and ensuring our readiness to respond in the case of an emergency or a disaster is critical,” said Diane Rafferty, interim president and chief operating officer, Women & Infants Hospital. “We are proud to be able to work collaboratively with the state agencies and other health care providers in planning for emergencies. This playbook will now be one more valuable tool in our preparedness toolbox.”
The playbook includes inventory material, emergency power supply contacts, facility manager checklists, and reporting information and is comprised of a four-phase planning process to help facilities safeguard their emergency power systems and expedite power restoration. The four phases are:
- An assessment of potential power vulnerabilities and guidance on how to address vulnerabilities before a disaster occurs.
- Guidance on how facilities can ensure reliable emergency power, should the grid go down.
- Guidance on how to operate while under emergency conditions and how to sustain efforts during emergency power operations for four days or longer.
- Information on the post-disaster recovery process, and how to best learn as an organization and most effectively prepare for subsequent emergencies.
Rhode Island is the first state to implement the initiative and will be a model for a nationwide push of the Powered for Patients program. Having officially entered hurricane season in June, the playbook could not have been completed at a better time. A copy of the playbook will be distributed to healthcare facilities and community partners through the state.
Protecting Patients When Disaster Strikes was developed using funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The playbook references partnerships with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Grid, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, the American Society of Healthcare Engineering, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, among other organizations. RIEMA and RIDOH’s Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response worked with the nonprofit Powered for Patients on its development.
“One of the key lessons learned after Hurricane Sandy was that federal officials lacked sufficient situational awareness of failing hospital generators. The Rhode Island initiative will help address this problem by developing a protocol for how to best share information about threats to backup power systems with government officials and utilities,” said Eric Cote, project director for Powered for Patients.