Planning for a Catastrophe

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are required to conduct routine emergency-preparedness training for infectious disease outbreaks, as well as generally maintain infectious disease policies and protocols. The arrival of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States mandates a call to action for all facilities to review those policies, confirm policy enforcement, and ensure that infectious disease safeguards in place for healthcare providers (HCPs) are appropriately tailored to address and mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

The American Hospital Association has urged all HCPs to monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) websites for guidance on tailoring policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak to the extent it spreads throughout the United States.[1] As of March 4, 2020, the CDC issued an update to its Interim U.S. Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health Management of Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure in a Healthcare Setting to Patients with COVID-19.[2] The CDC encourages HCPs “to report recognized exposures, regularly monitor themselves for fever and symptoms of respiratory infection and not report to work when ill.”[3] Given how easily COVID-19 may spread, the CDC encourages each healthcare facility to develop a “low threshold” plan that will address how it will screen its HCPs for symptoms, and establish quarantine and treatment protocols for HCPs with presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses. This is particularly important for HCPs who are at high or medium risk of exposure to COVID-19.  The CDC defines these exposure classes as follows:


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With hurricane season upon us, employers are justifiably concerned about the potential impact of a natural disaster on their business. A hurricane, natural disaster, or any other crisis in the workplace, can bring a business to a screeching halt and devastate the lives of a business’ most valuable asset, its employees. This article was first published in the wake of Hurricane Katrina based on lessons learned in managing through that crisis. These lessons continue to ring true year after year, crisis after crisis. Thus, we continue to update and republish this article each hurricane season.

To minimize the impact of a natural disaster, employers should have plans in place before disaster strikes, including, for example, a crisis management plan, a communications plan, and a disaster response and recovery plan. These plans must take into account the effect a catastrophe may have on workers and include ways to help impacted employees return to work as soon as practical to ensure continued productivity of your workplace even in the face of personal loss. Any enacted plan should consider the application of relevant federal and state laws to ensure compliance and avoid any employment-related lawsuits or any agency enforcement actions following a natural disaster.
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Please find below a recently published article from our Construction Team members, Stephen T. Miller and Tiffany C. Raush. The article “When Force Majeure Is For Sure: The Business of Constructing in Disaster-Prone Areas” was first published in the ConsensusDocs Construction Law Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 3. 

One could have predicted in early 2017 that

With hurricane season upon us, employers are justifiably concerned about the potential impact of a natural disaster on their business. A hurricane, natural disaster, or any other crisis in the workplace can bring a business to a screeching halt and devastate the lives of a business’s most valuable asset, its employees.

To minimize the impact of a natural disaster, employers should have plans in place before disaster strikes, including, for example, a crisis management plan, a communication plan, and a disaster response and recovery plan. These plans must take into account the effect a catastrophe may have on workers and include ways to help impacted employees return to work as soon as practical to ensure continued productivity at the workplace following a natural disaster. Any enacted plan should consider the application of relevant federal and state laws to ensure compliance and avoid any employment-related lawsuits or any agency enforcement action following a natural disaster.
Continue Reading Planning for a Catastrophe