With major updates taking place to CMS regulations for emergency preparedness and life safety, there has never been a more important time for healthcare facilities to embrace more agile and cost-effective management of their fire safety, life safety and emergency management responsibilities. Structure fires, natural disasters, mass casualty incidents, and active shooter incidents are driving changes in regulations and a focus on managing preparation proactively to ensure appropriate response to these events.
In 1976, when RPA served its first client, fire procedures and training were not customized to handle bariatric patient care units, managing a fire evacuation from an OR during bypass mode of open heart surgery and the use of robotics, or handling a neonate with Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). Having fire procedures and training staff in the use of those procedures is required in healthcare, but for many organizations, facility layout, fire protection features of buildings, patient acuity and staffing levels have changed over the years, and fire procedures and training have not evolved at the same rate.
How has RPA helped to evolve the way the industry looks at healthcare fire safety today?
Hurricanes, floods, wildfires, tornadoes and other local and regional disasters undeniably illustrate the critical need for effective emergency preparedness programs at all medical facilities. In 2012, 11 hospitals and 62 long-term care facilities across 4 states evacuated during one hurricane alone.
RPA provides services to assess current plans and the facility, design facility-wide and unit-specific procedures (for everything from partial or full evacuation to surge), train key leadership and staff on the activation of the plan, and run exercises that test plan effectiveness.
Our development and administration of Mutual Aid Plans or regional disaster plans in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, and Virginia have helped coordinate preparations by healthcare facilities to cope with resource and asset needs and evacuations caused by single facility and regional disasters.
Healthcare systems are continually challenged to assess their compliance with the Life Safety Code®, understand any unique interpretations and exceptions, and ensure that all cost effective measures have been taken to comply with the Code.
With existing buildings, a common perspective of the leadership team is “we did just fine on our accreditation/licensure survey” and then a fire occurs and many things go wrong. Did the innovative thinking on how to use the Life Safety Code® to protect patients and staff get integrated into the evolution of the healthcare facility? Was the facilities department and leadership addressing the higher acuity patients and the altered use of space?
With new construction and major renovations, so much emphasis is placed on the aesthetics of the space, efficient environmental controls, and the building code compliance required to make the space operational. How intertwined was the Life Safety Code® in making the smooth transition from construction to operations?
All of these changes lead our healthcare clients to improve their processes and enhance compliance strategies to better protect their patients and staff.
When a fire or disaster strikes, time is precious and preparation counts. RPA technology offers a myriad of benefits to advance planning for regulatory and accreditation surveys, reporting and communications at the time of an emergency, as well as time and cost-saving benefits to managing post-event reporting to mitigate future risk.
RPA technology is built off of 40+ years of consulting experience with our clients through disaster exercises, actual fires and disasters, and accreditation/licensure survey outcomes. The best practices developed to support our clients in managing these situations have been weaved into risk reduction and compliance strategies in the technology solutions. RPA is a pioneer in the development and use of technology to facilitate faster, more thorough reporting and management. The technology works seamlessly with our industry-leading consulting services and we are committed to continue evolving our comprehensive approach with the release of technology for stand-alone healthcare facilities, Integrated Health Systems and national healthcare clients.