Wednesday, February 06 | Care Coordination, EHR Solutions and Operations, Post-Acute Care

When Disaster Strikes

By Aaron West, Vice President of Foundation, Covenant Care

Covenant Care is a non-profit organization that has been serving the Northwest Florida and South Alabama for more than 35 years. We offer care to individuals during all stages of life ranging from memory and companion care to home health and hospice. I’d like to regale you with a tale regarding our experience with emergency preparedness and what it means to have a holistic partnership.

Like thousands of others, Covenant Care lay in the direct path of Hurricane Michael in October 2018. We’re no stranger to storms, but this one was different. The monster hurricane intensified to a category four, almost five, storm before making landfall. There was one thing we knew for certain: this storm was coming and it was coming fast. So, we activated our emergency preparedness procedure, which includes a company-wide alert system, pre-staging water, gas and other necessities and contacting all patients in the direct path of the storm. With more than 845 individuals in the area, including staff, volunteers and patients, we knew how important it was to take this seriously and follow protocol ahead of the storm.

Once Michael hit, our biggest challenge was maintaining communication. We had a primary cell phone provider who was unavailable. Luckily, we had access to a few satellite phones, but we relied a lot on our partners, including Netsmart, to help us out with supplies like batteries and temporary phones to contact our employees and patients. We knew within two days all 165 employees in the affected area were okay, so we proceeded to say, “What’s next? Who needs help? What can we do?” Our employees were able to recover quickly and respond immediately, which was essential to our workflow.

They say that when disaster strikes, you see how much people really care about each other. Well, we found that to be the exact case with Covenant Care. It was amazing to see our employees, volunteers and partners immediately jump in to help anyone who needed it. Our staff was delivering water, food, clothes and any other necessities all over the area to patients and their families. We care about everyone we’re involved with. We are a family, and that really showed during this time of crisis.

In addition to having our close-knit community, we realized how important it was to have real partnership with our vendors. Partners like Netsmart were there for us giving us additional battery packs, hotspots and iPads to use so we could stay connected and provide care. It made all the difference in those immediate days after. All things equal, a vendor who is actually a partner carries a lot more weight to us as an organization. It’s extra special when our partners reach out with a helping hand, which is so important to us as a non-profit. We were lucky enough to see that come to life after Hurricane Michael hit.

Thanks to our strategic plan, we were able to avoid any interruption in our service throughout the storm. We found how important it is to have a plan a head of time, so if something happens, you are ready. Be flexible in your plan, not everything in your plan is going to go the way you think.

Healthcare needs don’t wait for the power to come back on or for things to calm down. Have a plan, have a partner. As a non-profit, it’s extra special when a partner like Netsmart springs into action. That being said, we wouldn’t have recovered to the extent that we did without having a plan in place before the disaster hit.

 

 

Meet the Author

Aaron West Blog Photo
Aaron West · Vice President of Foundation, Covenant Care

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