238199 Hospital Perceptions of Disaster Planning Efforts to Address Vulnerable Populations' Needs

Monday, October 31, 2011

Debra Kreisberg, PhD , School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO
Morgan Valley, MS , School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO
Deborah Thomas, PhD , Department of Geography & Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO
Comilla Sasson, MD, MS , School of Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, CO
Disasters disproportionately affect minority and culturally and linguistically isolated populations. In the absence of disasters, the standard functioning of the healthcare system results in significant disparities in outcomes for minority populations, a baseline deficient only amplified during emergency events. These disparities are inadequately addressed and are exacerbated by the fact that healthcare systems have little objective data on how to prepare for vulnerable populations in disasters. The overarching purpose of this project was to develop resources for incorporating the needs of vulnerable populations directly into hospital disaster planning. This in turn enables hospitals to more accurately and appropriately address the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse populations in response to a catastrophic health event, disaster or emergency. We conducted a pilot study to evaluate two essential perspectives that inform this challenge, including limited-English speaking and immigrant communities and the healthcare administrators involved with emergency planning. We first conducted a demographic analysis of Colorado to provide an overview across the entire state, along with surveys and focus groups to define patterns of community interactions within healthcare facilities in the context of disaster scenarios. This presentation highlights the cross-sectional survey of hospital emergency preparedness officials in Colorado to illuminate the healthcare system's perspective of disaster planning efforts and the ability to meet the needs of vulnerable populations in their service areas. Results indicate that hospital disaster planning efforts do not sufficiently address the needs of culturally vulnerable populations. Hospitals do not yet understand the potentially catastrophic effect that a surge from a large vulnerable population with complex medical, linguistic or cultural needs could have on the delivery of services. Ultimately, hospitals should strive to understand and interact with local communities prior to disasters to more effectively provide services equitably to all during and after an event and operate efficiently as critical infrastructure.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how baseline inequities in hospital planning might be amplified during disasters. 2. Identify gaps in hospital disaster planning and areas to build preparedness in Colorado. 3. Discuss the importance of addressing culturally-specific needs of vulnerable populations to improve the coordination and response in groups that are at the highest risk.

Keywords: Planning, Access and Services

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a professional research assistant who was involved in the data analysis, and data interpretation for this project. I participated in the creation and revision of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.