The 2018 North Atlantic Coastal Storm Season begins on August 1 and continues through November. Since February, GNYHA has spearheaded a workgroup to help New York City hospitals located outside evacuation zones with preparations to receive both evacuating hospital patients and medically vulnerable community members living in evacuation zones.

The workgroup includes hospital emergency managers and representatives from NYC Emergency Management, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York State Department of Health, the Fire Department of the City of New York, and the Regional EMS Council of New York City. The workgroup complements two other workgroups—one focused on understanding jurisdictional send-receive arrangements among hospitals, nursing homes, and adult care facilities, and another on increasing receiving capacity among out-of-zone nursing homes.

The workgroup is educating New York City hospitals about jurisdictional coastal storm sheltering and evacuation operations to help inform facility and network-level planning. It will send a comprehensive memo to all City hospitals later this month and will hold a May 23 webinar to detail the operations and their potential impact on hospitals. Hospitals are encouraged to join the webinar, which will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon. Interested members can register here.

Workgroup discussions have highlighted numerous areas that would benefit from enhanced coordination, further education, or alternative protocols, and they include improving communication between hospitals and the hurricane shelter system for discharge planning, educating home health agencies about coastal storm sheltering operations to help them develop personal preparedness plans with clients, and exploring protocols to allow ambulances to bring patients to locations other than hospitals, when medically appropriate. The workgroup will continue working on these and other issues over the coming months.