NICUs and the Specific Disaster Preparedness Needs
In no place is disaster preparedness more critical than in our major healthcare facilities. This is even more true in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). For somewhat obvious reasons, the NICU has some very specific disaster readiness concepts. Even more than any other area of a hospital, with the possible exception of the emergency room, the NICU is a place where even the smallest details cannot be overlooked. The fragility of life in the NICU is impossible to overstate. Regardless of disaster type, there are some specific safety and security solutions that are needed to be set in place.
A new report put out by the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) highlights these threats and the need for preparation in bold terms. But a NICU with a solid plan, and thorough training, can be prepared for almost any possibility. Some of the key points within the important AAP document include:
1. Be Prepared Early
Preparation cannot begin when a threat is becoming obvious; the steps and protocols needed for security need to be in place well beforehand. When it comes to the NICU, there is no such thing as being over prepared.
2. Know What to Prepare For
Preparation is key, as mentioned above, but preparing for the
right potential events may be of equal importance. The location and category of your healthcare facility will factor into the types of risk to be considered. A NICU near an ocean may be prone to hurricanes, while one in a densely populated city could be more vulnerable to a quickly spreading disease. These probabilities can, and should, be identified.
3. Plan for Flexibility in Staffing
Staffing is vital in a disaster. The capacity of facilities can surge to nearly three times the normal, making extra assistance all the more important. You should prepare for this surge to last up to at least 10 days. One aspect of staffing which often goes overlooked is the effect a disaster may have on the staff itself. Prepare for the possibility that some of your staff and team may be unavailable themselves.
4. Practice Situational Awareness
Good situational awareness isn't a talent some people have, but luckily, it's a learned skill that can be sharpened over time.
5. Evolve Your Plan
Never let your NICU department rest on its current plan; threats are always changing, and the need to stay sharp is key.Be prepared for everything from a prolonged loss of power to a fast-moving outbreak. Feel secure in the ability of your NICU to operate in any situation. For information about safety and security solutions available to your NICU, contact us today.
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