A hospital emergency manager is an individual responsible for the overall planning and response to emergencies that can affect the healthcare organization and communities that rely on it. He or she may be solely responsible for emergency preparation and response management or head up a team with responsibilities shared among team members.
If the healthcare organization is part of a Health Care Coalition (HCC), a hospital emergency manager is also responsible for collaborating with external entities. Depending on the role of the organization within the coalition, this can escalate responsibilities to include coordinating emergency responses between entities and ensuring the resilience of the healthcare system after an emergency.
However, even when an individual is solely responsible for hospital emergency management in an organization that is not part of a HCC, it is impossible for them to work in isolation. They have to liaise with nurse managers, operations managers, and HR managers (among others) to ensure an effective organizational response to incidents that affect the environment of care.
Therefore, it is unlikely there is any such thing as a typical day in the life of a hospital emergency manager. Although you could say a typical day would be filled with meetings, planning, training, and organizing emergency preparedness exercises, the number of different hats a hospital emergency manager has to wear suggests every day is far from typical. Let’s look at a few of those roles.
The Hats and the Roles of the People Who Wear Them
While hospitals can differ in their organizational structure, there are usually five departments a hospital emergency manager will have to liaise with – some of which will have multiple influences on emergency planning and preparedness. For example, while the finance department will usually only be concerned with budgets and cost allocations, the CMOs department may be involved with the management of outpatients, psychiatric services, and ambulance crews (plus several others).
Operations departments often cover procurement, admin, security services, IT, transport, and logistics, while the input from the nursing department may include child services, care of the elderly, and providing for vulnerable populations. Similarly, the HR department is usually responsible for employee wellbeing, employee training, and risk management – which in most cases will mean the HR Department is involved in mandatory emergency preparedness training, drills, and exercises.
Then there may be some emergency preparedness considerations for which more than one department has responsibility. For example, regulatory compliance (i.e., HIPAA) could involve the HR, IT, and legal departments, communications could be assigned to the marketing department (which would usually manage PR and media communications) and the perations department for internal communications, emergency communications, and collaboration with external entities.
The Scope of External Entities May Surprise You
It was mentioned previously that the responsibilities of a hospital emergency manager can vary according to the role of the organization within a Health Care Coalition. They can also vary according to the nature of medical services provided, the nature of the emergency, and considerations such as the availability of secure shelter and accessibility to food and water, as these factors may determine the scale of a patient surge in the aftermath of an emergency.
In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services published a guide to Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities to support its Hospital Preparedness Program. While the guide is geared towards Health Care Coalitions, it contains a list of external entities that can either be members of a coalition or that hospital emergency managers may need to contact in the event of an emergency. Some are obvious, but many could be overlooked in the stress of an emergency.
Therefore, in addition to contacting law enforcement, fire services, and public safety officers when an emergency starts, hospital emergency managers may have to set up lines of communication with external entities such as medical device manufacturers, amateur radio groups, and faith-based organizations – notwithstanding that, when an emergency event starts, hospital staff, patients, visitors, and partners in the Health Care Coalition may need to be alerted simultaneously.
Effective Communication is Critical to Effective Hospital Emergency Management
In any emergency, the key to an effective response is effective communication; and in a hospital emergency, effective communication is critical because of a number of entities – both internal and external – that have a role to play in response and recovery. With this in mind, hospital emergency managers are invited to get in touch to request a demo of the Rave Collaborate solution – a crisis management tool designed to expedite emergency communications and ensure no entity is overlooked.
Rave Collaborate helps hospital emergency managers plan and prepare for any emergency event, mitigate operational disruptions during an event, and accelerate recovery from an event via activity tracking capabilities. The platform integrates with existing critical communication tools (PA systems, digital signage, desktop alerts, etc.) and is compatible with FEMA’s WebEOC system which is utilized by many Health Care Coalitions, public health agencies, and emergency services around the country.
In the demo, it will also be possible to see how Rave Collaborate integrates with other Rave Mobile Safety communication solutions for healthcare in order to identify further use cases for the platform. To find out more, contact us today.