everything, but it is our responsibility to have a plan that allows us to respond appropriately to any emergency,” she says. “That is what our patients, staff and community will expect from us. We need to prepare for the worst-case scenario because that scenario could become a reality.” Bergero adds, “A continuity of operations plan will help an ASC determine whether it can serve patients through an emergency or close down in a way that mitigates damage and allows it to reopen and bring its oper- ations back online in an orderly and effective manner.”

Continuity of Operations Planning in ASCs

Effective communication, drills and working with your local organizations are key BY ROBERT KURTZ


n a disaster, either natural or man- made, continuity of operations

planning helps an ASC protect and preserve its critical infrastructure, says Lynne Bergero, project director for the division of health care quality evalua- tion at The Joint Commission in Oak- brook Terrace, Illinois.

“Continuity of operations planning focuses on the resilience of an organi- zation during an emergency,” she says. “It has the goal of protecting the orga- nization’s physical plant, information technology systems, business opera- tions and other

infrastructure from

direct disruption or damage so it can continue to function throughout or shortly after an emergency.” The basic concept of continuity of operations has its roots with the fed- eral government, says Regina Boore,


RN, CASC, principal of ASC devel- opment and operations consulting firm Progressive Surgical Solutions in San Diego, California. “It is the notion that essential functions of an organiza- tion need to be maintained in the event of an emergency. It fits any business, including ASCs, in terms of being pre- pared for the unexpected.” For ASCs, a continuity of opera- tions plan is an important element of emergency preparedness, says Kris Kilgore, RN, administrative direc- tor at Surgical Care Center of Michi- gan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a surveyor for the Accreditation Asso- ciation for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) in Skokie, Illinois. “My physicians say I am full of doom and gloom when discussing the need for our ASC to be prepared for

Understand Your Risks Because you cannot develop a continu- ity of operations plan unless you know what you are planning for, Boore says, completion of a risk assessment is a vital step in the plan’s development. “There is an increased emphasis by accreditation and federal agencies on planning based on risk assessment,” she says. “Rather than embracing a one-size-fits-all model, ASCs will be best served if they understand their specific vulnerabilities. For example, if your ASC is in Hurricane Alley, you have a different set of risks to be preoc- cupied with than if you are in Califor- nia, which is more likely to experience earthquakes and fires.” Assessing how these risks could

specifically impact an ASC and its oper- ations, Kilgore says, is key. Her ASC is in a three-story building that houses other medical offices. A few years back, participants in building-wide planning meetings

considered how everyone

would respond in an emergency. “We determined that we needed to figure out how we would notify every- body in the event of an emergency, understand our safe zones and have plans for action,” she says. “What will affect the ASC is going to affect every- one in the building.”

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