Emergency preparedness drill participation and completion rates from two exercises held in June suggest that providers need continuing assistance in fulfilling required emergency preparedness protocols.
In a meeting with the state Department of Health (DOH) Office of Health Emergency Preparedness (OHEP) and the Office of Primary Care and Health Systems Management (OPCHSM), HCA and colleague associations – the New York State Association of Health Care Providers (HCP) and the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State (HPCANYS) – were informed that: 50 percent of Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LHCSAs) participated in the required June 11 and 13 drill by submitting all survey forms (35 percent submitted some of the forms); 68 percent of Certified Home Health Agencies submitted all forms (29 percent submitted some); and 71 percent of hospices submitted all survey forms (7 percent submitted some).
These numbers demonstrate the continued need for assistance to providers in survey completion, and HCA will work with DOH on this issue. HCA has emphasized – and will continue to do so – the necessity for all home care and hospice providers to participate in required and non-required drills in order to improve their preparedness for emergencies.
Providers nevertheless encountered many issues during the drills, including: confusion about how to access the Integrated Health Alerting System (IHANS) through which drill notices are sent; which roles in the Health Commerce System receive IHANS notifications; what an After Action Report is and who has to complete it; conflicting timeframes for completing survey forms during each day of the drill; and the number of surveys that have to be completed by agencies with multiple sites. HCA discussed all of these issues with DOH and will follow-up for approaches to remedy these issues and/or educate providers in their readiness for future drills.
In addition to our meetings with OHEP/OPCHSM, HCA also participated in gatherings of the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island Health Emergency Preparedness Coalition (HEPCs) as part of a grant we receive, along with HCP and HPCANYS, who receive funding for our work on behalf of all home care and hospice providers to support their roles in emergency preparedness.
The Lower Hudson Valley HEPC meeting discussed: training activities; lessons learned from a recent vehicle accident at West Point; development of training specifically for mass-casualty incidents; and use of electronic medical record data by one hospital that records the incidence of infectious disease and other illnesses to assist with resource management, surge planning, situational awareness, and community outreach. The meeting also included breakout groups to discuss medical surge and pediatric surge.
The Long Island HEPC meeting included: a presentation on an “active shooter” exercise held at a local hospital; breakout sessions on medical and/or pediatric capability and capacity for incidents such as an active shooter situation, surge in burn patients and release of hazardous materials; and future tabletop exercises.
HEPCs are regional coalitions of health care providers, local and state emergency managers and local public health preparedness officials who work together to develop and coordinate emergency preparedness activities. Under the OHEP grant, HCA, HCP and HPCANYS are responsible for participating in HEPC meetings on behalf of providers across the state outside of New York City where we advocate for home care’s and hospice’s involvement in emergency preparedness drills and other activities.
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