Lessons Learned from Tropical Storm Henri

Following the heavy rains and winds brought to many areas of New York State by Tropical Storm Henri, agencies are encouraged to examine their emergency preparedness plans to ensure that they are comprehensive, updated and ready to meet the next potential disaster.  

Agencies are advised to review the state Department of Health’s (DOH’s) Dear Administrator Letters that address emergency preparedness, including:

Certified Home Health Agencies and hospices are also advised to also review the federal regulations for home health and for hospice, as well as this federal safety standard guidance.     

As stated in DHCBS 16-11:  

Each agency is required to have an emergency preparedness plan. The purpose of this plan is to ensure specific procedures are in place that will ensure the continued delivery of services to patients with minimum interruption during an emergency. Agencies should identify the types of emergencies that could impact their capacity to provide services to its patients in order to develop an effective preparedness plan. The plan must be reviewed at a minimum annually and as needed. All staff must receive training during orientation and annually to their roles and responsibilities when the plan is implemented. The plan must address communications, resources, staff responsibilities, and patient activities. 

Emergency preparedness plans must include: an updated patient roster; “call down” list of staff; an updated contact list of community partners; and procedures for participation in drills and exercises. DOH uses the Health Commerce System (HCS) to communicate with agencies, and so it is imperative that providers update their Communications Directory in the HCS and continuously monitor their emails, phone calls and texts. 

Agencies should also review the resources on HCA’s emergency preparedness website and the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness Response (ASPR) Technical Resources, Assistance Center and Information Exchange (TRACIE)