Those of you in the emergency and disaster preparedness field know well that September is Preparedness Month. This is a great annual opportunity for all of our communities to focus on personal and regional preparedness, and to reaffirm our commitment to this work.
We need not look any further than our national news, to be reminded of the devastating impacts that disasters can have on our communities. Our hearts go out to our colleagues and all those affected by Hurricane Florence on the East Coast, the gas line explosions in Boston and the recent tropical storms in Hawaii. We are continuing to monitor the impacts on healthcare and the broader community and will be working with our colleagues from the affected areas to identify lessons learned to improve our planning here at home.
I challenge all of you to take at least one step this month to improve your own personal preparedness. Do you have a family communication plan? Have you identified your out of state contacts? Do you have a disaster kit in your car and at your office? For more tips, strategies and resources, take a look at our 28 days of personal preparedness guide. Personal preparation doesn’t have to stop when September does.
The recent disasters over the last few weeks reinforce the importance of the planning we are doing here in Washington, to prepare for disasters locally. There’s a lot of valuable work happening in Washington state right now, so please take a few minutes to read through the newsletter and share it with colleagues. With the Network’s recent expansion in Western Washington, we especially want you to be aware of the many different ways we’re changing to meet the needs of our larger service area. It’s only been a few months since the state announced the restricting of the coalitions, but it’s been a busy and productive time.
We deeply appreciate all the time that our new partners have given us. There is a lot of energy and optimism right now, and we’re excited to be a part of it. While the uncertainties of federal funding do put a little cloud on the horizon, we are moving forward on the work.
We will continue to talk with you about the issues facing our coalition and the communities we serve. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Since July, our staff has been spending time in each of the coalition’s new districts, having literally dozens of conversations about how the Network can support you and your communities. One of the first returns on your investment of time will be in the district-level inventories of services and needs. This will be the foundation for the work of the next year and beyond (more on that below).
Here are a few other ways we’re making sure all voices are heard:
We’re hiring local staff: To ensure communities have easy access to the Network, we are in the process of hiring district staff. These are important positions and we hope to be able to make announcements by the end of this month.
Transition Advisory Committee: To help integrate the new regions into the coalition and advise on our future planning, training, and exercise efforts, this committee will work with program staff and the board for the next 6-12 months. This committee will begin meeting in October.
Board/Governance evolution: As an independent non-profit, the Network has a board of directors and bylaws that structure our organization. We have already begun work on how to structure the board to reflect the broader service area of the organization. This work will continue in the months ahead, as we finalize and begin implementing changes for the future.
If you have any questions or concerns about how the integration is going, please contactOnora.
Over the summer, we had the opportunity to engage coalition representatives and stakeholders across the 15 counties of our new Western Washington service area to learn more about their coalitions, the health and medical structures in each county and to help us identify best practices, gaps and priorities. These inventories have been essential to helping us get to know our partners and inform our next steps.
The inventory report will be distributed to our coalition partners this month and is available on our website. Here are just a few highlights of some of our key learnings:
It’s important to keep a strong local focus. Communities expect the Network to maintain and build local relationships between providers and response agencies.
Connecting with experts and partners outside the region is important, too. Meeting the needs of local communities is essential, but so is looking outside local boundaries for best practices.
Not all sectors are as engaged as they should be in preparedness and response. Every region has a mix of strong and weak partnerships, and there’s a strong desire to have help in engaging others in the work. In some cases, long-term care providers are not at the table, but it could just as easily be dialysis centers or surgical centers.
We are excited to have kicked off our District Coordination meetings, in all four of the Network’s districts, to continue the great work of collaborating on health and medical preparedness. We look forward to our work together as we move ahead on our shared priorities. For questions or more information about the county inventories or next steps, contact (Susan Pelaezor Rebecca Lis)
In order to serve a greater number of partners seeking our review, the Network has partnered with Pierce County Emergency Management and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department to develop a one-page document that provides resources to assist facilities in meeting their individual CMS requirements (links to planning sites, how to sign up for alerts, online exercise design courses, etc).
In addition, Pierce County Emergency Management will be hosting a two-day workshop designed to help healthcare facilities learn how to write a plan, design training and exercise, plan for vulnerable populations, etc. The Network is partnering with them to design this workshop and will be teaching/facilitating modules to directly support the facility learning. We will be sharing more information at future district meetings.
In an emergency response, one of our main goals is to ensure patients are moved and transported to an appropriate destination facility in a timely manner. In order to execute this effectively, we have a well-coordinated community process for identifying patient needs, distributing them to receiving facilities, and transporting them to those facilities.
We are creating a Multi-County Patient Tracking plan and Multi-County Patient Movement Plans this fall that will encompass our newly expanded geographic area. A draft of the Multi-County Patient Tracking Plan that is out for review with partners. Please contact Rebecca Lis or Aaron Resnick if you are interested in reviewing the plan.
In this month’s issue:
– Message from Onora – Growth and Transitions – Inventory Insight – CMS Work – Patient Movement – Personal Preparedness – News and Resources – Quote of the Month
Disaster preparedness and response staff are thinking constantly about the community, and September is a month dedicated to not just thinking about the community, but engaging the community in the work.
This tool kit breaks down the essential elements of personal preparedness into smaller bites, so it’s easier for people to take the steps they need. There is a wealth of information to help people make plans, build appropriate supply kits, and know what to expect after a disaster. You can use all or parts of it to talk about preparedness at events or through social media such as Facebook or Nextdoor.
The Network is active on the local and national levels. We want to recognize Rebecca Lis, Aaron Resnick and Onora for contributing to these resources, which will be used by coalitions across the country:
Getting to travel across our beautiful state and talk about our work has been an unexpected perk of the expansion. We’re so grateful to all the people who have welcomed us into their community, and we look forward to working more with you.
“Thanks to you three for making the trip to San Juan yesterday and taking the time to chat. I appreciate your obvious smarts and approach and anticipate some new energy in good directions as this develops.
“I didn’t think of you as a response resource, but knowing you have 24/7 capability is great and I do think your ability to support patient tracking and situational awareness on the patient transport/care side could be extremely useful. Looking forward to working more together and seeing how this all takes shape. Thanks again for taking time to come meet us!”
Brendan Cowan, Director San Juan County Department of Emergency Management