How hospital communicators play a vital role in disasters

Houston medical facilities are strained as Hurricane Harvey has deluged the city. Here’s how they’ve conveyed crucial information, along with stories of their preparation and response.

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In recent years, monstrous hurricanes have put hospitals on high alert.

Some patients are too ill to evacuate; others need regular treatment that cannot wait for flooded streets to clear. Hospital staffing is strained when replacement workers can’t make it to work. Along with those issues, the storm surge washes in new health concerns.

Amid the chaos, health care communicators are working overtime to calm fears and educate a worried public.

Lessons from previous hurricanes and floods guide the messaging.

In an interview with Fortune, DR. Andrew Rhim highlighted theimportance of preparation:

MD Anderson was hit really hard in 2001 during Hurricane Allison,” he told Fortune in a phone interview. Rhim wasn’t at the center back then–but he says that administrators took that event as a wakeup call and worked to shore up disaster management in the years since. “The response to Harvey has been a product of those preparations.

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