Emergency Management Tip: Nurse firings during emergency response should trigger an HVA assessment on your end

Emergency Management Alert, March 16, 2010

Have any of you been following the headlines regarding Washington (DC) Hospital Center firing a handful of staff for calling in to work during blizzards in February?

Washington (DC) Hospital Center has terminated 21 nurses and other essential personnel for not showing up to work during the February blizzards. The hospital says they allegedly disregarded their duties and ignored attempts by the facility to offer sleeping accommodations or transportation in advance of the storms. About 250 workers in total didn’t show up for the shifts during the storm, and by the looks of it, many of them had valid excuses that the hospital considered.

As for the 21 fired employees, a nurses union has filed a labor grievance with the hospital, so the debate isn’t over yet.

The emergency management implications of such a controversy are widespread. The Joint Commission requires your emergency operations plan to describe how the hospital will support employee needs during disasters (see EM.02.02.07 for details).

But effect of the situation should be on everyone else’s hazard vulnerability analysis (HVA). At the very least, it seems wise to review your HVA’s findings in light of the idea that an emergency may cause a significant amount of absent workforce. How might that factor alter any of the rankings in your HVA? It’s a significant question.

And your answers should not just be influenced by weather-related emergencies. Think about civil unrest or terrorism, during which staff might be afraid to come to work.

For more tips, check out Mac's Safety Space.

Most Popular