How Hurricane Irma forced Florida hospitals to beef up work policies

Many Florida hospitals and health systems updated their employee policies in the wake of Hurricane Irma last September to accommodate for potential changes to employees' and their families' living situations, the Naples Daily News reports.

As recovery and repair efforts continue one year after the deadly Category 4 storm, two of three health systems in southwest Florida have updated their policies to more clearly define what is expected of employees during and after a hurricane.

Naples-based NCH Healthcare System typically requires employees to submit the names of their immediate family members who would need shelter at one of the hospitals every June. The policy applies to employees scheduled to work during a declared storm. In the case of Hurricane Irma, some employees stretched the regulation, bringing more family than registered and placing a strain on the system's shelter space and other resources.

Going forward, NCH Healthcare will print out the registered lists and check them against those seeking shelter during the next storm. Officials said they have also more clearly outlined which positions they consider essential and expect to report to work, the report states.

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, which maintains four hospitals in the region, told the publication it will put in place similar rules and regulations to better inform employees and their families in the event of another storm. The system plans to implement an electronic registry and ensure employees' families' names are on that registry to provide them with temporary shelter.  

"[The system] wasn't that well-defined before," a Lee Health executive told Naples Daily News. "Now we will have a tracking tool [for names on the registry.] Before Irma came, [the tool] wasn't 100 percent complete. [The registry] was done by hand as they entered the facility. That was the biggest change we made."

Scott Lowe, market CEO of Naples-based Physicians Regional Healthcare System, told the Naples Daily News the system does not plan to implement any policy changes, but will be more clear about when employees are expected to return to work after a major storm.

To access the full report, click here.

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