As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, training exercises strengthen the health care system’s ability to respond to emergencies
36 long-term care facilities and over 200 individuals participated in the exercise
May 3, 2017 — The New York City Health Department and New York City Emergency Management today conducted an emergency training exercise at 36 long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes, assisted living and adult care facilities. The exercise was the largest the City has ever conducted at long-term care facilities. It simulated a pandemic outbreak of influenza in which participants needed to track patients during evacuations or sheltering, respond to a surge in patients and a shortage of resources, and manage fatalities that exceeded capacity. Today’s exercise is part of an initiative developed after Hurricane Sandy to better integrate long-term care facilities into disaster planning. The exercise follows federal guidelines and was the culmination of a seven-month program in which participating long-term care facilities tested their emergency plans. Funding for the exercise was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) through the Hospital Preparedness Program.
“As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, exercises like this one strengthen our ability to protect the public’s health in the case of an emergency,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “Whether it’s a flu pandemic, a coastal storm or an act of terrorism, the Health Department is a part of New York City’s emergency response, and our health care facilities need to be prepared if disaster strikes.”
“The city’s health care community is a key partner in planning for and responding to the needs of New Yorkers during citywide emergencies,” said New York City Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito. “Today’s exercise with the City Health Department helps to ensure that long-term care facilities have access to the resources and support they need to be prepared and resilient.”
“Conducting exercises like this, which strengthen coordination between agencies and encourage better preparation, is a crucial step toward ensuring that New Yorkers are protected should an emergency situation arise,” said Council Member Mark Treyger (47th District, Chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency). “As we near the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, I commend the Health Department and NYC Emergency Management for making resiliency, as well as the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable residents, a priority.”
About the Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness Efforts
The New York City Health Department is charged with protecting New Yorkers from and responding to any type of emergency. We quickly identify bioterrorism or naturally occurring outbreaks to stop the spread of disease through disease surveillance, laboratory testing, and public health surveillance. In an emergency, the Health Department offers mass vaccinations, mental health needs assessment and service coordination, clinical guidance and risk communication, and environmental mitigation. In addition, the Health Department works with the entire health care system, including hospitals, acute care, long term care, primary care, and ambulatory care settings to support health care preparedness coalitions and improve system readiness for an emergency.
For more information on the Health Department’s emergency preparedness efforts, visit nyc.gov/health and search for “Emergency Prep.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller / Stephanie Buhle (347) 396-4177