Emergency Preparedness - 5 Lessons Learned Since 9/11 - Gail Donovan

September 11, 2001 was the day that defined the need for emergency preparedness in healthcare. A new discipline and language were born.

Hospital and health system executives started to more robustly define what was needed to be prepared and continue operations during emergencies. Eventually, accrediting bodies such as The Joint Commission came to formalize policies and standards that must now be demonstrated by hospitals.

Over the last decade, there are 5 key lessons learned that the COVID pandemic (the largest and most universal of all emergencies experienced to date) crystalized for healthcare providers.

  1. Emergencies used to be thought of as relatively short-lived individual-type events like terrorist attacks, blackouts, floods, fires. COVID has now defined sustainability at a whole new level. Post 9/11, hospitals defined sustained operations beyond a day to 2, 3 maybe 30 days. Now, hospitals and health systems must be prepared to manage an emergency for more than a year with challenges that feel like roller coaster rides almost daily. Human life depends on the availability and access to expected trusted facilities, clinicians, supplies and drugs to treat and cure. Much is being written about how COVID management as a long-term event/emergency ultimately is defining a new normal.

While there are countless lessons learned and still being learned from the COVID pandemic, the above 5 are highlighted looking at the last decade of emergency preparedness and management. What would you add to this list?

Gail Donovan

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