When disaster strikes, healthcare organizations need help. As a staffing agency, you need to be ready to supply the workforce support they need while keeping your own business running. Follow our emergency preparedness advice to make sure you have the right talent ready for placement as well as the policies and infrastructure in place to keep your own organization running.

Providing Contingent Workers in an Emergency

While some emergencies, like major accidents, create a quick need for enough workers to handle patient needs for a limited time, sometimes there are epidemics or other ongoing crises affecting healthcare organizations. Staffing agencies can support their clients when permanent employees quickly burn out or need more frequent breaks due to the type of care needing to be provided.

In order to be able to provide the best workers for emergency situations, your staffing agency should:

  • Identify candidates in your pool who have disaster response and recovery experience so you can access them quickly in an emergency
  • Collaborate with clients on an emergency staffing plan
  • Establish a way of communicating with clients and candidates in emergency situations
  • Consider deploying workers to areas prior to a known impact, like an impending storm, so resources are in place for coordination

Emergency Preparedness for Your Own Agency

In order to support your clients, you need to be sure your own business is prepared to handle emergencies. A strong emergency preparedness plan should focus on training employees to react effectively to all kinds of disasters, including environmental emergencies, cyberattacks, and major accidents. Get started by planning ahead:

  • Develop protocols to establish a command center in the event of an emergency at your workplace or in your community
  • Assess how your agency will communicate with your clients, facilities, civil authorities, EMS, fire and police
  • Establish an emergency notification system to reach your employees and the workers you place
  • Train 10 percent to 15 percent of your workforce in first aid and CPR
  • Practice building evacuation processes
  • Review procedures for operating under extreme conditions or remotely so you can get up and running quickly
  • Schedule regular training, including how employees should ensure their own safety
  • Hold announced and surprise drills to assess processes and roles and pinpoint breakdowns or conflicts
  • Integrate disaster preparedness and recovery procedures into new employee onboarding
  • Create a process and identify a point person for notifying family members/next of kin and talking to the media

Protect Your Company from Cyberattacks

Making sure your network and software solutions are updated with the most recent security patches is only part of the battle against enterprising hackers. The biggest threat to your company is employee emails. The FBI received 20,373 business email compromise and email account compromise complaints in 2018 alone, producing losses in excess of $1.2 billion. Here are steps you can take to safeguard your systems:

  • Design a training program that combines IT’s knowledge with HR’s pedagogy
  • Review common types of cyber fraud and how to spot them, including W2 scams, fraudulent financial transfers, and other tactics
  • Teach employees how to spot fake emails and criminal tactics: Does it make sense that this person is reaching out to you at all? Do you often get emails from the CEO or CFO? Are you expecting something from this person, or is this out of the blue?
  • Establish protocols for any request of sensitive information, such as W2s or passwords, or if the request involves transferring funds
  • Launch periodic phishing tests to evaluate how well your employees detect and report various types of attacks
  • Arrange for a temporary switch to a third-party computing provider in the event of a ransomware or dedicated denial of service attack, so you can operate with the least possible disruption
  • Run simulated ransomware attacks to walk staff through quarantining compromised machines, shifting to other networks, and restoring systems
  • Provide backup analog communication systems and remote work areas

You never know when an emergency may affect you or one of your clients. But you can take these steps to be prepared and able to support healthcare organizations when disasters occur.


Additional Resources

This article provides general information and is not intended to replace professional and personalized safety, legal, or insurance advice. Consult with your own advisors and review local/state/federal regulatory guidelines and requirements when creating or updating your emergency and disaster plans.


 

Margot Carmichael Lester

About Margot Carmichael Lester

Margot Carmichael Lester is a North Carolina-based freelance business journalist who has been covering healthcare and staffing for more than 20 years. She also writes about moviemaking for the International Cinematographers Guild, specializing in action cinema. Margot co-authored the award-winning teen writing book Be a Better Writer with her husband, Steve Peha. She earned her BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a rabid Tar Heel basketball fan.