by Steven Ross Johnson
“After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Amedisys decided it needed to upgrade its disaster plan. The national home healthcare and hospice provider began conducting risk analysis and factoring in local potential hazards to develop a plan to ensure staff and residents at its U.S. facilities could weather natural disasters. From this came several changes: greater coordination with first responders, regular drills and closer collaboration with other Medicare providers.
“The plan, which calls for sending disaster response teams to check in on patients at home and bringing them food, water and cleaning supplies, was implemented during last year’s floods in Louisiana. The plan helped keep Amedisys staff and residents safe.
“But now Amedisys and other providers like it are being asked to step up their efforts. Many of the nation’s healthcare providers are facing a deadline to implement new federal requirements that standardize how they handle natural disasters and terrorists’ threats.
“In September, the CMS finalized a rule requiring 17 types of healthcare providers to set new policies that result in better coordination with emergency personnel and frequent tests and adaptations of emergency plans.
“While most experts support the regulations, others worry that many facilities, … ”