New Study Shows Hospitals Were Unprepared For Superstorm Sandy

Nearly two years ago, Superstorm Sandy hit the Northeast claiming 72 lives and nearly $50 billion in estimated damage. Within the 40 counties declared disaster areas of Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, hospitals were found to be ill-prepared. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Inspector General Office released a study, “Hospital Emergency Preparedness and Response During Superstorm Sandy” in which they found that eighty-nine percent of hospitals experienced critical challenges during Sandy, such as breakdowns in infrastructure and community collaboration. This study was conducted because, “In a 2006 study, we found that many nursing homes had insufficient emergency plans or did not follow their plans. In a 2012 follow-up study, we found that gaps continued to exist in nursing home emergency preparedness and response.” The report makes aware that most of the hospitals were cited in the three years before the storm for deficiencies related to emergency preparedness and response.

The Department of Health and Human Services found that “Most hospitals in declared disaster areas sheltered in place during Superstorm Sandy, and 7 percent evacuated.” The challenges that eighty-nine percent of hospitals had experienced, “represented a range of interrelated problems from infrastructure breakdowns, such as electrical and communication failures, to community collaboration issues over resources, such as fuel, transportation, hospital beds, and public shelters.” Along with these challenges, the other two problems that were taken into consideration were patient care and staffing. The report includes figures and tables to show further detail of the findings.

The The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Inspector General Office ends the study with recommendations for both the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to promote collaboration and to regulate policies and guidance in the event of major disasters.

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