Running head: CRISIS MANAGEMENT PLAN
Crisis Management Plan for Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida Cathleen Wallace
Healthcare Communication/HCS 350
December 15, 2014
Pamela Prince, MSN Ed, MA, PHN, RN
Crisis Management Plan for Mercy Hospital in Miami, Florida
Time is short and decisions must be made quickly in a crisis or disaster. Communication systems are often the first recovery area disabled during a crisis. For example, if a Category 5 hurricane hit Miami’s Mercy Hospital, it would experience major disruption because it sits directly on the ocean with no barriers to wind or flooding. This situation was seen during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans with many nurses and doctors even abandoning their assigned posts. The landline phones and cell phone towers were inoperable when the power systems went down. The hospital would also experience added stress due to injured residents flocking to receive emergency treatment. Because physician orders are faxed to the pharmacy and outside specialists, the entire system would have severe delays in care delivery. It would also be difficult to call extra staff into shoulder the burden as they may also be injured at home or without telecommunication equipment. All communications would have to be face-to-face in person. This interpersonal contact has become so rare during our technological age that employees could be expected to experience very high levels of stress. During Hurricane Sandy, the entire website system was shut down by the federal government to prevent more widespread technical damage in unaffected regions. Although an option, backup generators only work for so long. Therefore, patients on assisted ventilation to breathe could die if the crisis continued for weeks. Infection control would be difficult, as the influx of new patients would require housing them lined up in hallway beds. This is why a crisis management communication plan is necessary for every hospital.
It is critical to reducing stress in a crisis. A crisis creates an unknown situation that causes uncertainty and fear in humans (Richardson & Byers, n.d.). A solid pre-planning guidebook on policies and procedures can help mitigate stress by outlining exactly which employees are assigned to which tasks. Unfortunately, studies show that 80% of companies have outdated crisis plans that seriously need to be updated in this ever-changing global environment (Chandler, Wallace, & Feinberg, 2007). Employees in different departments need to be trained before a crisis hits about how to work across departments in a smooth, integrated way. The organization could also do pre-crisis communication studies to develop evidence-based pathways for problem-solving during the crisis. Studies have shown that leaders during a crisis become hyper-vigilant that leads to making no decisions or making too hasty decisions (Richardson & Byers, n.d.). Employees also increase chaos by using too much social media like Twitter to discuss details about the situation that could give the hospital a permanently damaged reputation (Latonero & Shklovski, 2011). Another way to reduce stress in a crisis is to decide carefully how much information to disseminate to the public about the extent of injuries and organizational chaos. Too much information can create panic, rioting, picketing, and negative national media coverage. Televised messages should be frequent, concise, taking full responsibility for failures, and designed to increase public trust. Intercultural communication is also a valuable tool for stress reduction. Some cultures, such as Americans, may show stress outwardly by yelling at other employees to reduce tension. Others, such as the Chinese, may handle stress by becoming even quieter than normal. These differences in handling stress have the potential to shut totally down communication between healthcare workers who feel bullied and frustrated. The first step in solving a...
References: Chandler, R.C., Wallace, J.D., & Feinberg, S. (2007). Six points for improving crisis communication plans. Retrieved December 11, 2014 at http://its-networks. com/pdfs/White_Papers/tandberg/tandberg-whitepaper-crisis-business-communications.pdf.
Clark Communications. (n.d.). Crisis communication management. Retrieved December 11, 2014 at http://www.clarkcommunication.com/PRTips/Crisis_Communication _Management.php.
De Wolf, D., & Mejri, M. (2013). Crisis communication failures: The BP case study. International Journal of Advances in Management and Economics, 2(2), 48-56.
Latonero, M., & Shklowski, I. (2011). Emergency management, Twitter, and social media evangelism. Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 3(4), 1-16.
Richardson, B.K., & Byers, L. (n.d.). Communication studies and emergency management: Common ground, contributions, and future research opportunities for two emerging disciplines. Retrieved November 11, 2014 at http://training.fema.gov/hiedu/docs/emt /disaster%20chapterdraft%20one12.23.04.pdf
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