Flu season heightens need for crisis response planning
March 3, 2014 by Vickie Anenberg
While developing a crisis response staffing plan is a good idea for any number of reasons, it's often a contingency document that's prepared once, then sits on a shelf where everyone involved hopes it will remain.
However, as flu season annually reminds us, a staffing crisis can quickly arise from circumstances that are usually considered commonplace. So it's important for hospitals to continually revise their crisis staffing plans.
Here are some suggestions that will have your hospital's staffing plan prepared for natural disasters, flu season and everything in between.
- Update the staff contact list.
- Establish a clear sick-leave policy for staff suspected or confirmed of having an epidemic- or pandemic-prone disease or who have sick family members/dependents.
- For each unit or service, identify the minimum number of health-care workers and other hospital staff needed to ensure the sufficient operation of the unit or service.
- Recruit and train additional staff (e.g. retired staff, reserve military personnel, university affiliates/students, community volunteers) according to the anticipated need.
- Cross-train health-care providers in high-demand services (e.g. infectious disease wards, emergency and intensive care units).
- Provide training and exercises relevant to areas of need, including infection prevention and control, to ensure staff competency and safety.
- Identify domestic support measures (e.g. travel, child care, care of ill or disabled family members) that could enhance staff flexibility for shift work and longer working hours.
- Address liability, insurance and temporary licensing issues with respect to staff who may be working outside their areas of expertise.
- Work with a provider of temporary healthcare professionals to ensure optimal staffing levels are always maintained.
Flu season is not over yet, make sure your plan is ready before you need it.
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