Disaster planning

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A few weeks after receiving CHAP accreditation, Terry Flatt found himself mobilizing his required disaster plan.

“We’ve had a plan,” said Flatt, president of Hammer Medical Supply in Marshalltown, Iowa. “We’ve just never had to implement it.”

Record-breaking floods across the Midwest in June had Flatt and other providers across the region scrambling to care for patients and maintain business operations. For Flatt, that meant reassigning employees to different locations and moving several thousand dollars worth of equipment from his corporate headquarters located on the Des Moines River.

“We didn’t miss a beat,” he said.

Disaster plans need to demonstrate how a company will handle onsite and offsite emergencies, said Sandra Cannally, president of The Compliance Team.

“How do they prioritize their patients?” she said. “They need to be looking at it no matter what comes down the pike.”

Provider Mike Kuller, president of Allstar Oxygen Services in Concord, Calif., said he’s required to provide oxygen patients with back-up cylinders in case of emergencies. He said lately he’s seen some non-local companies failing to do that.

“If they’ve just got a portable and the power goes out, they’re screwed,” he said.

In Miami-Fort Lauderdale, where competitive bidding significantly reduced the number of oxygen providers, provider Rob Brant worries Medicare beneficiaries could suffer in the event of a hurricane.

“Some of these companies have never been down here,” said Brant, CEO of City Medical Services in North Miami Beach, Fla., a non-contract provider. “I wouldn’t put a bid in Riverside, because I wouldn’t know what to do if there’s an earthquake.”