June 1 marks the beginning of the North Atlantic hurricane season, with the highest probability for storms in the New York region falling between early August and late November. With predictions for a very active storm season, GNYHA urges members to review emergency plans for coastal storms, including impacts to power and infrastructure, and patient surge and evacuation. GNYHA has compiled information and resources below related to coastal storm preparedness and response. GNYHA is also planning a series of Sit Stat drills in the coming weeks focused on coastal storm response.
Coastal Storm Drills Using Sit Stat
GNYHA is planning a series of Sit Stat drills to familiarize members with the various coastal storm-related surveys. The drills will take place on July 29 and August 5, and all Sit Stat hospitals are encouraged to participate. Additional details will be shared with hospitals in the coming weeks.
2021 Season Outlook
A lead meteorologist from the National Weather Service’s (NWS) New York office presented at GNYHA’s June 2021 Emergency Preparedness Coordinating Council meeting. Mr. Wally reviewed the 2021 season outlook and relevant NWS tools.
New York City Evacuation Zone Changes
On June 1, 2021, New York City officials announced updates to the City’s evacuation zones. All updated information is available on the Know Your Zone webpage. These changes impact a small number of hospitals and long-term care facilities. New York City Emergency Management (NYCEM) has conducted outreach with these facilities to discuss zone changes. Additionally, NYCEM has communicated these zone changes to the New York State Department of Health (DOH).
Important Updates from DOH
DOH colleagues have asked GNYHA to share the following important updates with members.
- New York City health care facilities achieved a 95% compliance rate with completion of the Critical Asset Survey and Facility Evacuation Planning Application (FEPA). DOH staff encourage facilities to work with send-receive partners on arrangement details and to develop additional arrangements to support potential evacuations.
- DOH is currently updating the Facility Guidance Document for Coastal Storms, the Healthcare Facility Evacuation Center (HEC) Manual, and the FEPA application, taking into account changes to New York City evacuation zones. Updated documents should be available by the end of July.
- As we approach coastal storm season, additional reminders include:
- Both sending and receiving facilities should be prepared to use eFINDS for patient tracking during a coastal storm activation.
- Facilities should be prepared to begin decompression, activate internal Incident Command structures, and consider activation of send-receive arrangements in FEPA even before a HEC activation is announced.
- Facilities should be prepared to respond to coastal storm HERDS surveys. Responses will require census or availability information by bed type listed in the FEPA, as well as Transportation Assistance Levels for all patients.
- Facilities should plan to maximize existing arrangements to support evacuation prior to contacting the HEC. However, once activated, the HEC should be informed of all patient transfers.
Two New York City-specific resources are currently being updated and should be available by the end of July. They are the NYC Coastal Storm Operations Overview for Healthcare Facilities and the NYC Community Evacuation and Sheltering Operations Guide. GNYHA will share these with members as soon as they are available.
GNYHA encourages members to consult the additional resources listed below.
- GNYHA’s Patient Evacuation Toolkit was developed via a collaborative workgroup process and includes resources that address patient bed matching, the availability of critical clinical and demographic information in the transport process, and the sharing of medical information between sending and receiving facilities.
- GNYHA’s Developing a Surge Plan to Accommodate Medically Vulnerable Community Members is designed to help hospitals modify existing surge plans to accommodate medically vulnerable members of the community who may seek assistance or be brought to the facility.
- Additional tools for rapid patient discharge for receiving and evacuating facilities and surge tools for receiving facilities can be found on the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Emergency Preparedness Resources for Hospitals webpage.
GNYHA Sit Stat
GNYHA continues to develop its Sit Stat platform to support coastal storm operations. Coastal storm-related surveys are designed to: 1) understand key actions taken by hospitals, 2) understand current and anticipated impacts to hospital operations, and 3) facilitate patient bed-matching within and outside of health system arrangements.
During a coastal storm response, GNYHA will activate its bed-matching surveys, which use a set of previously tested standardized bed definitions, to provide situational awareness and help evacuating facilities identify available beds. GNYHA will also deploy daily operational surveys to assess facility impacts and operations outside patient movement. In preparation for coastal storm season, facilities participating in GNYHA’s Sit Stat program should review the standardized bed definitions and the operational survey templates, which can be found in the Sit Stat Document Library.
GNYHA recognizes that the standardized bed definitions used in Sit Stat do NOT align with the bed categories used by DOH and the HEC. While we have been working with DOH to achieve alignment, this effort is not yet complete. Currently, GNYHA is working with DOH colleagues to crosswalk these two sets of definitions and provide further instructions to facilities so that they can leverage the Sit Stat system for bed matching and also to meet their obligations to DOH. We will share more information as it is available.
If a coastal storm threatens the New York region, GNYHA will share relevant information with members, monitor member impacts through the Sit Stat situational awareness platform, and activate our own emergency staffing plan to meet member needs.