GNYHA Symposium Highlights Evolution of Emergency Preparedness Since 9/11

September 13, 2021

GNYHA recently hosted a symposium to explore how health care emergency preparedness has changed since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The speakers discussed the shifting threat landscape and the ongoing evolution of emergency management based on numerous factors, including an aging population, climate change, and the growing complexities of health care delivery.

Dan Hanfling, MD, an emergency physician with Inova Fairfax Hospital who has participated in responses to disaster events since 1999, gave a keynote address on the evolution of health care emergency preparedness. Dr. Hanfling noted that the role of emergency managers will grow increasingly important due to the complex nature of today’s threats, which include epidemics, climate crisis, and new waves of terrorism from internal and external sources. “We live in a dangerous world, and we need someone to keep their eye on maintaining functionality and continuity and other things.” Ongoing challenges include the need to communicate better with the public. He also advocated for including emergency managers in the hospital C-suite.

Panelists focused on the current and future state of health care emergency preparedness. Scott Heller, Albany Medical Center’s Vice President of Emergency Management, noted that today we are in an “ongoing activation” as emergency management is called upon to manage successive emergencies.

Meghan McGinty, PhD, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Director of Emergency Management, highlighted the sector’s need to better market itself. “We’re not doing a good job communicating what we do. We don’t advocate on our own behalf effectively.” Emergency preparedness also needs to better recognize the importance of equity, she said.

Brendan Carr, MD, Professor and System Chair of Emergency Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Mount Sinai Health System, discussed incentives to elevate the work of emergency preparedness.

The panel discussion included the changing role of emergency management in an environment that seems to be in emergency mode more often than not. The event underscored the essential role of health care emergency management to hospitals, the larger health care delivery system, and the nation’ security.

A recording of the webinar can be found here.