Are You on Top of Your Emergency Preparedness Plan? O

ne of the themes of this issue of ASC Focus is “emergency preparedness,” and as I write this column, Hurricane Dorian has just decimated parts of the Bahamas and created havoc along its entire path. Medicare-certified ASCs have been required to have a disaster preparedness plan since 2009. As noted in State Operations Manual Appendix L—Guidance for Surveyors: Ambulatory Surgical Centers, the intent was for an ASC to “have in place a disaster preparedness plan to care for patients, staff and other individuals who are on the ASC’s premises when a major disruptive event occurs.” The regulations for disaster preparedness—now referred to as emergency preparedness— were revised and greatly expanded in 2016. That year, the Cen- ters for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) established national emergency preparedness requirements for all 17 Medicare and Medicaid provider and supplier types. Those requirements created mandatory elements and planning procedures that facilities must institute to account for facility occupant safety in the event of natural and man-made emergencies. This fall, CMS revised those rules slightly. Learn more about the changes at 2019-burden-reduction-rule. If you don’t have an emergency plan, turn to page 8 to read “How to Write

an Emergency Preparedness Plan.” If you have one, know your emergency plan before you use it and get

it reviewed by your local emergency authorities. Your staff should know who will call the patients, who has the power to decide to close the center and when, and who is in charge of implementing your emergency plan. Pay heed to hurricane warnings, board up your windows, make sure that your generator has plenty of fuel, and have enough water to survive for a couple of days. Know the location of your evacuation zone. Know whether you are in a flood zone. Look at your center well in advance of an emergency. Evaluate your situation before an emergency, not during. If you are in a state like Florida, hurricane preparation is part of your

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emergency plan. Make sure all your employees are trained in the plan and have taken part in emergency drills with your county. The drills show you what could happen in your community. Evacuate when you are asked to leave. ASCA members in Florida tell me that Floridians get jaded about storms. They say, “We have been through so many storms, we will be fine,” and they ignore evacuation orders. That could turn into a formula for disaster. Re-evaluate your emergency plan after an emergency.

Bill Prentice Chief Executive Officer



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