Healthcare considerations in disasters

Johnson, Andrew, Aitken, Michael, and Leggat, Peter A. (2017) Healthcare considerations in disasters. In: Fitzgerald, Gerry, Tarrant, Mike, Aitken, Peter, and Fredriksen, Marie, (eds.) Disaster Health Management: a primer for students and practitioners. Routledge, Abingdon, UK, pp. 129-144.

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Disasters pose significant challenges to the provision of health services; both direct and indirect. The direct impacts on health infrastructure including staff, resources and patient load, may challenge the capability of health services to deliver on core expectations. Indirect impacts result from changes in function to other elements within the community such as: interruption to transport affecting resupply and staff availability; inability for parents to attend work when childcare facilities and schools are closed; or loss of financial viability.

To deal with these challenges, it is important for healthcare leaders and disaster managers to understand the way their system works; not a hierarchical, top-down system, but rather an organic, evolving and ever-changing interconnected world that responds to leadership and behaves unreliably to traditional command approaches. Understanding these concepts builds resilience within the healthcare system; that is, the capacity to adjust and deal with threats and challenges and still achieve required outcomes.

Health leaders also need to develop plans that will guide their responses in the context of the local environment. The plans for one service may be quite different from another and need to reflect the hazards and threats in their community, and the local capacity and resources to respond. A disaster will challenge healthcare providers to look for ways to cope with rapidly evolving changes over which they have little control. This will impact on the availability of staff, the skills required, and changes to work practices. Consideration of these matters in advance and, as far as possible, ensuring that everyone knows and understands their roles will allow a far more resilient response and better outcome.

Item ID: 46893
Item Type: Book Chapter (Teaching Material)
ISBN: 978-1-138-91118-5
Keywords: disaster health management; healthcare; disasters
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2017 02:08
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111708 Health and Community Services @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920407 Health Protection and/or Disaster Response @ 70%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 30%
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