Emergency preparedness

Monday, June 22, 2009

YARMOUTH, Maine – Most HME providers have emergency preparedness plans—accreditation, for one thing, requires it—but they’re beginning to realize that may not be enough.

“We need to look at emergency preparedness more collaboratively,” said Susan Wingert, owner of Pediatric Home Respiratory Services in Saint Paul, Minn. “It’s not about my business vs. your business. It’s about how we can work together to care for patients.”

With that in mind, Wingert and a handful of other providers in Minnesota have formed a Rapid Response Team. They hope to develop an overarching plan that details how providers can work together and with other groups like emergency medical services (EMS).

One of the team’s first steps, members say, will be to determine which providers have what equipment and supplies on hand.

“In this reimbursement environment, all providers are keeping inventory to a minimum,” said Carol Laumer, a member of the team and executive director of Rice Home Medical in Willmar, Minn. “How do we make sure we can take care of own patients and still be able to respond to someone else’s request for hospital beds or nebulizers?”

Laumer added: “And what’s the process for making and responding to these requests?”

The team’s eventual goal: To approach the state and ask, “Here’s what we can do. How can we collaborate?” Wingert said.

To help it along, the team has invited The VGM Group’s Merideth McDonald to Minnesota on July 15 to speak to providers on preparing for pandemics.

Providers in New York also seek to play a more formal role in overall emergency preparedness. They’ve been meeting with state officials on a regular basis for several months now.

“We just received our first assignment,” said Carol Napierski, executive director of the New York Medical Equipment Providers Association (NYMEP). “They want us to come up with a list of equipment and supplies that need to be available in certain hotspots. We’ve always played a reactive role, but this is more proactive.”