Importance of Hospital Crisis Communication Management as Experienced and Learned during the August Habagat 2012 Floods

Importance of Hospital Crisis Communication Management as Experienced and Learned during the August Habagat 2012 Floods

Posted on August 14, 2012

Source: What’s hot, what’s not – in the face of calamity (Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 12, 2012)

During the August Habagat 2012 floods, there are lessons to be learned on hospital crisis communication management.

Wrong information and misconceptions on the status of the hospitals during the rain-flood situation will affect in a negative way the reputation of the hospitals as safe hospitals during emergency-disaster-crisis situation.  These misconceptions and bad reputation will eventually have an effect in the business opportunity of the hospitals.

In a recent write-up I made, entitled  “The Implications of Flood around and in Hospitals – Hospital Administration’s Point of View,”

( see http://hospitalsafetypromotionanddisasterpreparedness.wordpress.com/2012/08/12/the-implications-of-flood-around-and-in-hospitals-hospital-administrations-points-of-view-2/), 

I mentioned at least 4 implications.  These are, namely:

  1. Hospital safety – is the hospital safe or not safe?
  2. Health care delivery services – are they compromised or not?
  3. Status of patients and staff in the hospital – are they trapped or not?
  4. Business opportunity – is it significantly reduced or not?

I discussed each implication and what hospital administration should do in terms of preparedness and response.  Part of the strategies that I suggested was a knowledge management system.  Essentially, this consists of the hospital having to formulate strategies and action plans on corporate communication to be used during rain-flood situation.  This corporate communication  should be part of the so-called rain-flood emergency-disaster-crisis communication management of the hospital.

Below are excerpts from my write-up related to crisis communication.

Business opportunity – is it significantly reduced or not?

The goals of the crisis communication management here are to inform and to promote correct perception of the public and potential patient-clients on the true rain-flood situation in the hospital, primarily, whether the latter is accessible or not; whether it is functional; and whether it is still a safe hospital. The knowledge management must be done not only truthfully but also in a timely manner.  It should be done with the following balancing objectives in mind: promoting safety of the potential patient-clients who are thinking of going to the affected hospital while  controlling the degree of reduction in the business opportunity of the hospital or vice versa.

Status of patients and staff in the hospital – are they trapped or not?

The goals of the crisis communication management here are to inform and to promote correct perception of the real situation in the hospital, whether the patients and staff are really trapped and stranded or not, whether they are just “staying put.”   “Staying or stayed out” should not be interchanged or confused with “trapped” and “stranded.”  The knowledge management must be done not only truthfully but also in a timely manner.

Misconception of patients and staff being “trapped” and “stranded” will affect in a negative way the reputation of the hospital as a safe hospital during emergency-disaster-crisis situation.  This misconception and bad reputation will eventually have an effect in the business opportunity of the hospital.

Health care delivery services – are they compromised or not?

The goals of crisis communication management here are to inform and to promote correct perception of the real situation in the hospital, whether the hospital is completely functional or not.  The knowledge management must be done not only truthfully but also in a timely manner.

Misconception of the hospital’s health care delivery services being compromised will affect in a negative way the reputation of the hospital as a safe and resilient hospital during emergency-disaster-crisis situation.  This misconception and bad reputation will eventually have an effect in the business opportunity of the hospital.

Hospital safety – is the hospital safe or not safe?

The goals of the crisis communication management here are to inform and to promote correct perception of the real situation in the hospital, whether the hospital is safe to go to and to be in.  The knowledge management must be done not only truthfully but also in a timely manner.

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Below are samples of news and tweets that I copied from the Net to illustrate the importance of hospital crisis communication management and for study.

The main issues that I saw in these online news and tweets that might have impact on the hospital reputation are whether the information being disseminated were accurate or not and whether they were authorized or not to be disseminated.

I will not analyze each news and tweet item one by one.

Instead, I will just share some of my personal thoughts, perceptions, opinions and recommendations on hospital emergency-disaster-crisis  (EDC) communication management, more specifically, on the do’s and don’ts in handling  EDC data / info / news.

Do’s in handling EDC data / info / news

•Collect data / info / news
•Secure data / info / news
•Keep and maintain confidentiality of data / info / news unless with clearance to break
•Make a report on what transpired in areas of responsibility
•Submit to incident command as soon as possible

Dont’s in handling EDC data / info / news

•Don’t talk about data/info/news without prior clearance from incident command / hospital director

•Don’t talk to media without prior clearance from incident command / hospital director

On spokespersons

•Only officially designated spokespersons shall be allowed to make formal public pronouncements.

•Official spokespersons during emergencies, disasters, and crises shall be designated by the Hospital Director.

•As much as possible, limit spokesperson to only one person.

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Again, below are samples of online news and tweets in which my abovementioned Do’s and Don’ts can be used in analysis to see what lessons can be learned.

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150 patients trapped in UERM hospital

ABS-CBNnews.com
Posted at 08/08/2012 7:56 AM | Updated as of 08/08/2012 9:30 AM
 http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/metro-manila/08/07/12/150-patients-trapped-uerm-hospital

MANILA, Philippines – Around 150 patients and 700 hospital personnel are trapped inside the University of the East – Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERMMC) in Quezon City after flood waters hit Aurora Blvd., an official said on Wednesday.

UERMMC Medical Director Dr. Andres Borromeo said the entire first floor of the hospital remains submerged in flood waters as of this morning, and the trapped patients and personnel were already out of food.

“Ang kailagnan namin is we have food to bring in, kaya lang hindi kami makapasok [dahil sa baha],” Borromeo told dzMM.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) commandant Vice Admiral Edmund Tan promised help and said rescue personnel stationed along V. Mapa Street will be deployed to the flood-hit hospital.

Tan said they will meet with Borromeo’s team to get the supplies to be delivered to the stranded patients and personnel.

UERM’s first floor also got submerged in floods during tropical storm Ondoy in September 2009.

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150 patients, 700 personnel trapped in UERM hospital

Published: Aug 8, 2012 – 8:51am

ABS-CBNNews.com reports that “around 150 patients and 700 hospital personnel are trapped inside the University of the East – Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERRMC) in Quezon City after flood waters hit Aurora Boulevard.”

The report quoted UERRMC medical director Dr. Andres Borromeo, who said “the entire first floor of the hospital remains submerged in flood waters as of this morning (Wednesday, August 8)” and that “the trapped patients and personnel were already out of food.” Borromeo added that he and the rest of his team want to bring in food to the hospital but they could not get in.

For more on this story, log on to ABS-CBNNews.com.

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UST Hospital flood reaches the 2nd floor

By
3:35 pm | Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/244723/ust-hospital-flood-reaches-the-2nd-

floorMANILA, Philippines–Flood water inside the University of Santo Tomas Hospital has reached its second floor.

“Please pray for the patients and staff of the UST Hospital. The flood is now up to the second floor of the building,”  officials of the Student Organization Coordinating Council of UST said in a Twitter post Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the heavily flooded  Dapitan Street on España is no longer passable to all types of vehicles. Residents in the area have moved to the second floor of their houses or the roof, local barangay (village) officials in the area said.

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It’s business as usual in two flooded Quezon City hospitals

By
11:30 pm | Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Despite the rising floodwaters that have turned E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue in Quezon City into a no-man’s land for the past days, it’s business as usual at De Los Santos Medical Center.

Dr. Lisander Ragodon, the hospital’s vice president for administration, told the Inquirer that operations remain normal although the emergency room personnel have been moved to higher ground.

At the height of heavy rains on Tuesday,   waist-deep floodwaters seeped into the hospital and submerged the area where the emergency room was located.

Ragodon assured the public that their patients were being well taken care of.

“We have a generator for electricity and we have distributed potable water to our patients. We have four incubators working,” he said.

At the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Medical Center in Quezon City, the floodwaters have subsided to knee-deep level although these continue to prevent hospital personnel and patients from leaving the facility.

“On Tuesday night, the floods even reached neck-deep. But as of Wednesday, it has gone down somehow,” said Supt. Norberto Babagay, station commander of Galas police station which has jurisdiction over the UERMMC.

The police official personally went to the hospital to assess the situation.

Babagay said at the height of the fury of Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009, the hospital was also submerged in floods since it is located in a low-lying area on Aurora Boulevard.

He added that supplies such as food and water were brought to the hospital by a Marine contingent which was sent to the area.

“Operations are still not back to normal there. People can come in but the floods make it hard,” Babagay noted.
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UERMMC, UST Hospital flooded, need supplies

August 7, 2012 9:20pm

Floodwaters inundated the ground floor levels of the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center (UERRMC) and the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital Tuesday.

At the UERMMC, the floodwaters came from the San Juan River which overflowed after non-stop heavy rains fell on Metro Manila. Chest-deep waters swept into the hospital.

UE, through its official Twitter account, said UERMMC needs diesel fuel for its electricity generators, which power the hospital equipment and facilities.

Responding to the plea for help the Philippine Red Cross sent fuel for the generators.

GMA News’ Joseph Morong, in his reports on 24 Oras and State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, said the flood swept into the UERMMC emergency room and cafeteria.

Hospital personnel said equipment and patients were moved from the ground floor to the second floor.

In Sampaloc, Manila from within the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital images of a flooded ground floor of the medical care facility were sent out through social media channels, including Twitter and Facebook.

The emergency room and diagnostic examination units are located on the ground floor of the UST Hospital. Large sections of the UST campus, including the parade grounds, formed a lake of floodwaters.

Tweets about the situation within the UST Hospital said patients and personnel need food and other supplies to help them get through the ordeal.

Over at the Philippine General Hospital of the University of the Philippines Manila campus, there were initially some pleas for help sent out through Twitter but which were deleted when the UP Manila Online Twitter account posted that “PGH is under control. Thank you very much. All is well in PGH.”

Social media reaction to the difficulties of UST Hospital and UERMMC ranged from sober to concerned to panicked.

Facebook user  ”Christian James” personally went to PGH to see for himself the situation there.

“The situation inside PGH isn’t that bad. First of all, they don’t need to be rescued. As for the supplies, food and water in PGH has always been scarce but people were hoarding food from the COOP since last night due to panic. Some residents, clerks and interns have been there for more than 48 hours since they prefer to stay than to go home since it’s not that safe,” he said.

“There was even a foreigner who went to the ER because of the tweets he read and volunteered to help. The clerks told us they don’t know what to do with him.I hope this will clear things out. As of now, there’s no need to worry about PGH but let’s just hope the floods will subside so that the situation won’t get worse,” he added.

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UERM hospital flooded anew -ABS-CBN

http://rp2.abs-cbnnews.com/video/nation/metro-manila/08/08/12/uerm-hospital-flooded-anew

<script src=”http://player.ooyala.com/player.js?height=340&embedCode=RxcDFsNTqxgSOyWiXuVeOADIQ_B-d3pw&deepLinkEmbedCode=RxcDFsNTqxgSOyWiXuVeOADIQ_B-d3pw&width=510&video_pcode=hlOGg6m6JyJMmZbIDpGvDvbN9FHp”></script>

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UE Flood – GMA 24 Oras

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UST Flood – GMA 24 Oras

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