4 ways hospitals can support staff after a disaster

After a disaster hits, hospitals must take steps to deal with the aftermath for patients, but it’s also vital that they take care of their employees, according to new guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Healthcare workers are just as susceptible to the trauma of a disaster, such as the recent flooding in Louisiana. To help their staff cope, HHS says organizations must offer them:

Shelter: For staff displaced from their homes, hospital leaders may want to provide them with a place to stay, either within the building or nearby. They should also reach out to nearby facilities that may be willing to donate space, such as hotels or houses of worship, and provide employees with a comprehensive list of local shelters.

Transportation: Depending on the nature of the disaster, employees may need help getting to and from work. Hospitals may reach out to local churches or schools to use buses and drivers. For example, after flooding in South Carolina, fire personnel provided boat rides for hospital employees.

Childcare and services for older adults: Hospital staff are far more likely to report to work if they don't have to worry about the care of their loved ones; to maintain retention in the wake of disaster, hospital leaders should provide on-site child and older adult care, partnering with local school systems if possible.

Behavioral healthcare: For some staff, emotional trauma resources may be necessary, and hospital leaders should provide a space for them to grieve and work through the experience, according to HHS.

- here’s the tip sheet (.pdf)