Hospitals reopen after evacuating amid environmental disasters

Public emergencies on both coasts have resulted in hospital evacuations, as well as damage to property, injury and death.

Meteorologists say about 6.9 trillion gallons of rain poured down on Louisiana between Aug. 8 and 14, claiming at least 13 lives and damaging at least 40,000 homes. President Obama has declared it a natural disaster. Several health care facilities in southern Louisiana, which was the hardest hit, were forced to evacuate due to the historic flooding.

The Louisiana Hospital Association says several post-acute facilities and nursing homes had evacuated. Ochsner Health System says it transferred a number of critically ill patients from its O’Neal campus in Baton Rouge to some of its other facilities. Also, two of its clinics in Denham Springs, La., remain closed until further notice.

In California, roaring fires have devastated nearly 55,000 acres of land and forced 82,000 evacuations. Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. has declared a state of emergency due to one of the blazes.

St. Helena Hospital in Clear Lake, Calif., evacuated its entire staff, as well as its 17 inpatients on Sunday, but reopened Wednesday. On its Facebook page, the hospital states that, “St. Helena Hospital Clear Lake was cleared to resume service by the California Department of Public Health on Aug.16, 2016, after a full survey of the hospital facility and all operations. The hospital did not sustain any damage and will be fully staffed to provide patient care in all areas, including the emergency department.”

ASHE, Joint Commission publish new resources related to fire safety

The American Society for Health Care Engineering (ASHE) and the Joint Commission have posted new fire safety resources as part of a joint project to help hospitals comply with some of the most commonly cited Joint Commission regulations.

The new resources, which can be found at ASHE’s Focus on Compliance website or the Joint Commission’s Physical Environment Portal, cover issues related to automatic sprinkler systems.

HRSA grants $16 million to improve telehealth and more at rural hospitals

Health Resources & Services Administration has awarded more than $16 million to improve access to quality health care in rural communities, including funds that will expand use of telehealth technology for veterans and other patients, assist providers with quality improvement activities, and support policy-oriented research to better understand the challenges faced by rural communities.

The grant includes $6,286,264 for 21 community health organizations that each will receive approximately $300,000 annually for up to three years to build sustainable telehealth programs and networks in medically underserved areas. 

FDA issues update on recalled Custom Ultrasonics endoscope reprocessors

Following Custom Ultrasonics' Urgent Medical Device Recall it sent to customers May 6, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising users to stop using the manufacturer's System 83 Plus AERs for reprocessing of duodenoscopes. The notice revises the FDA’s earlier communication regarding the product in February. The FDA now says that the product can remain in service for the reprocessing of endoscopes other than duodenoscopes.

HHS declares public health emergency in Puerto Rico in response to Zika

Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell has declared a public health emergency in Puerto Rico related to the Zika virus and the effect it has on pregnant women and children born to pregnant women who have contracted the virus.

Through the public health emergency declaration, the government of Puerto Rico can:

  • Apply for funding to hire and train unemployed workers to assist in vector control and outreach and education efforts through the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Dislocated Worker Grant program
  • Request the temporary reassignment of local public health department or agency personnel who are funded through Public Health Service Act programs in Puerto Rico to assist in the Zika response.

Tool helps patients, providers find open pharmacies in states with flooding

Healthcare Ready has activated its Rx Open mapping tool to help health care providers and patients in Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas to find open pharmacies in flooded areas. President Obama Sunday declared portions of southern Louisiana a major disaster due to severe storms and flooding.