5 reasons hospitals are ramping up emergency preparations

Many hospitals are evolving their emergency preparedness procedures to protect against rising threats, from cyberattacks to extreme weather, Time reported Nov. 25. 

The pandemic proved how thin unprecedented circumstances can spread the healthcare system, according to the publication. For that reason, hospitals are planning ahead to avoid being caught off guard.

"We saw widespread burnout of staff trying to go above and beyond, every single day [during the pandemic]. That's not sustainable — it's too overwhelming," said Yves Duroseau, MD, chair of emergency medicine and co-chair of disaster planning services at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "That's why we’re looking at what to do now, because COVID is still a threat, and now we're looking at issues like monkeypox and polio. Everyone wonders, what's next?"

Here are five challenges hospitals are preparing for, according to Time

1. A new epidemic. Hospitals are still on high alert from COVID-19, which proved how far and fast infectious agents can spread. 

2. Violence against employees. Violent attacks against medical professionals rose 63 percent between 2011 and 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and National Nurses United recently found that nearly half of nurses have experienced workplace violence. 

3. Climate change. A warming planet can lead to more extreme weather events. For example, 16 Florida hospitals had to evacuate when Hurricane Ian hit in September. And in December 2021, a Colorado neonatal intensive care unit was evacuated due to wildfires. 

4. Cyber threats. The American Association of Medical Colleges estimates that 1 in 3 healthcare organizations was hit by ransomware in 2020. Cyberattacks can affect patient care and hospital finances. 

5. Limited resources. Preparing for emergencies is an emergency all its own, as many hospitals are doing so with less staff while dealing with financial strain. Leadership turnover also makes planning difficult, according to Time.


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