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Collective response to public health emergencies and large-scale disasters: Putting hospitals at the core of community resilience

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Healthcare organisations are a critical part of a community’s resilience and play a prominent role as the backbone of medical response to natural and manmade disasters. The importance of healthcare organisations, in particular hospitals, to remain operational extends beyond the necessity to sustain uninterrupted medical services for the community, in the aftermath of a large-scale disaster. Hospitals are viewed as safe havens where affected individuals go for shelter, food, water and psychosocial assistance, as well as to obtain information about missing family members or learn of impending dangers related to the incident. The ability of hospitals to respond effectively to high-consequence incidents producing a massive arrival of patients that disrupt daily operations requires surge capacity and capability. The activation of hospital emergency support functions provides an approach by which hospitals manage a short-term shortfall of hospital personnel through the reallocation of hospital employees, thereby obviating the reliance on external qualified volunteers for surge capacity and capability. Recent revisions to the Joint Commission’s hospital emergency preparedness standard have impelled healthcare facilities to participate actively in community-wide planning, rather than confining planning exclusively to a single healthcare facility, in order to harmonise disaster management strategies and effectively coordinate the allocation of community resources and expertise across all local response agencies.
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Keywords: community resilience; disaster planning; hospital emergency support functions; surge capacity and capability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning is the essential professional journal publishing peer-reviewed articles and case studies written by and for business continuity and emergency managers.

    Each quarterly 100-page issue combines provocative thought-leadership pieces – which expand what can be achieved with business continuity and emergency management – with detailed, actionable advice and ‘lessons learned’, showing how programmes have been specified, designed, implemented, tested and updated, as well as how interruptions, emergencies and exercises have been managed in practice. The journal focuses on key strategic and business issues – not technical minutiae – with no advertorial or advertising.

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