Surviving Harvey: Disaster preparation issues for medical practices hit by hurricanes

Insight Article

Disaster Planning

Policies & Procedures

Hurricane Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane, hit the Texas Gulf Coast on Aug. 25, 2017, dumping about 60 inches of rain1 around Port Arthur and causing an estimated $126 billion in damages.2 The 130-mph winds left more than 308,000 homes without power.3

The subsequent weeks of media coverage of the damage and suffering often spotlighted the extensive damage done to the area’s hospitals. For instance, East Houston Regional Medical Center received such extensive damage caused by six feet of floodwaters that administrators decided not to rebuild the 40-year-old, 131-bed hospital,4 resulting in layoffs for the hospital’s entire 479-employee workforce.5 

At least 16 hospitals were closed because of complications caused by flooding, and about 1,000 patients were moved to other facilities throughout the state. In one evacuation effort, residents of a Port Arthur nursing home facility waited in flooded hallways for up to 24 hours before U.S. Coast Guard personnel and volunteer assistants helped transport them from the flooded facility. In some instances, family members transported their own relatives from the facility with boats they brought from home.6

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About the Author

Jennifer Myers MBA, CPA, CGMA, FACMPE

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