It’s Hurricane Season – Is Your ASC Prepared?

The Atlantic hurricane season begins each year on June 1 and goes through the end of November. The peak of the season is just now gaining steam and will last until October. Because their reach can extend many miles inland, hurricanes can wreak havoc on the facilities of many ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). Hurricane season can be a tough time for anyone in the path of a storm, which is why AMSURG provides tools and services to help its surgery centers stay prepared for weather-related facility emergencies and to minimize the repercussions from being hit by extreme weather.

The first line of defense when it comes to extreme weather conditions is preparation. AMSURG ASCs have policies in place to make sure each facility is prepared for extreme weather conditions such as hurricanes, flooding and tornadoes. The centers are required to drill or practice these emergency protocols quarterly.

“Of course when a hurricane or whatever does hit, no one is sitting there reading the manual,” said Mike Whitby, director of facilities. “But they remember what to do from the drills. They’re prepared to handle it.”

Preparedness policies and training not only help AMSURG centers stay survey ready but also help minimize the severity of damage possible in extreme weather events like hurricanes. Much like most medicine, the key to a quick recovery from a traumatic injury is maintaining good health prior to the injury. This is why the help AMSURG offers with day-to-day facility maintenance tasks is so crucial. Consistently keeping the center in top operating condition helps to prevent more serious issues from occurring in the future.

While these policies can help facility staff know what to do in these situations, damage to the center can be inevitable. When extreme weather does make a direct hit, AMSURG steps up. If a center experiences damaging weather conditions, frozen pipes, equipment failures, HVAC outages or other building issues, AMSURG’s facilities team is one call away to provide a prompt, expert response to minimize the disruption of ASC services.

“Helping our centers near the coast remain or return to full productivity and function after a hurricane is a top priority for AMSURG,” said Daniel Buehler, vice president of facilities management and construction (FM&C). “The goal is to keep our centers operational with no downtime.”

AMSURG proved this policy of proactivity and security in August 2012 when it preemptively deployed a response unit to New Orleans to help its centers in the path of hurricane Isaac. With experts and resources immediately available after the storm had passed, the affected centers were back in business quickly in order to accommodate new and rescheduled procedures.

“We keep an eye on the forecast situation, and after they occur, I’ll call centers in that area to make sure everything is ok,” Whitby said. “Situations involving hurricanes and such extreme weather conditions can be difficult for centers to manage. Sometimes just calling to make sure everything is all right gives us a chance to offer some direction in a chaotic time.”