Online Custom «Contingency Planning in Action» Essay Sample

Contingency Planning in Action

Introduction

A contingency plan is developed to assist an organization recover in the soonest time possible from an event that disrupts its normal operations. These disruptions may come from natural calamities like the earthquakes, floods and tsunamis. All of them adversely affect the operations of an organization. They may also be caused by the man-made disasters, such as terror attacks, fire, or organizational systems intrusion, which result in the collapse of the regular team’s operations. Therefore, contingency planning is essential as it ensures the continuity of business despite any hardships that an enterprise may be encountering. One place where the contingency plan is needed the most is the hospital set-up where the treatment of patients should continue regardless of any disruptions (Martínez, 2011). Constant progress is important, and there is no chance of halting the services due to disruption; hence, contingency planning is not an option for the healthcare organizations. This paper will present an emergency plan for a hospital, discuss the policies and procedures required by such plan, give the recommendations for the utilization of this plan, establish a hypothetical scenario where it can be employed, and, lastly, mention the ethical issue posed by the plan.

An Overview of the Organization

The organization under review is a general hospital that provides all types of healthcare services. The facility is located in the middle of a coastal town with a population of half a million people. It is built on two acres of land where part of the area contains the buildings, while the rest is a park. It also has a small branch located uphill five kilometers away and is mostly less busy. The facility serves both in the inpatient and the outpatient departments, and, thus, it has many employees. There are approximately 200 full-time permanent employees, while those employed on the temporary and part-time bases make up to 150 workers.

The major operations of the hospital include a maternity theater that delivers an average of five infants per day, an intensive care unit with ten beds, and the general theater that handles an average of two major surgeries per week and an average of five minor surgeries daily. The facility also has an emergency department, a blood donation center, and an isolation ward. All these departments are connected with each other by an information system that contains all functions of the hospital (Sittig, Gonzalez, & Singh, 2014). The facility is also connected to the outside part of the hospital through the internet, and the operations are monitored in a control room.

Despite being a critical facility for the resident of the city, the hospital is facing potential threats that can undermine its operations bringing the services to a standstill. First, the hospital is facing a threat of natural disasters, as it is located in a coastal region. The facility is also exposed to man-made disasters, such as fire in the wards and other departments, workers’ strikes, or even terror attacks due to the growing numbers of extremists all over the world. For instance, the information system may be destroyed by the abovementioned natural or man-made disasters (Sittig et al., 2014). The hospital is also facing a threat of hackers, access attack, theft, and malware attack, which can affect the hospital data. Thus, there is a need for the hospital to develop a proper contingency plan.

Reasons for Contingency Planning

In every healthcare organization, the management should have an emergency plan at all times. Hospital’s operations have a perpetual nature, and little disruption can cause adverse outcomes. Therefore, an organization needs an efficient contingency plan to ensure that it returns to its full operational capacity within the shortest time possible in case a threat occurs (Martínez, 2011). This plan will lessen the consequences of the threats that put the normal operation of the hospital at risk.

The Benefits of Contingency Planning

When put in place at the right time and correctly, such plan will benefit the hospital in several ways in an event of an accident. First, it will ensure that the organization does not incur too many losses attempting to adjust its operations. The plan will also prevent the immediate panic of the management of the hospital once the accident occurs (Martínez, 2011). Additionally, it is a comprehensive plan which will help adjust different activities within the shortest time required. The plan will also ensure that the treatment services are not distorted in any way.

A Contingency Plan for the Organization

The Scope of the Plan

This plan covers two main activities of the hospital. First, it addresses the inpatient operations and any related threats as outlined previously. It also covers the inpatient information system, which can also be affected by the same threats as the regular operations (Lawrence, 2013). Thus, the main aim of the plan is to ensure that the inpatient hospital services are not affected either by the daily activities or the information system.

Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

The hospital’s inpatient operations and the information system face several threats that limit the efficiency of activities in the event of an accident. Some of these threats cannot be prevented, and, thus, they can cause operational problems. Some of the primary concerns are a tsunami and an earthquake, which can easily hit the hospital at any time. If such situation occurs, the main impact is first felt in the wards where the patients are located. The wards may be partially or wholly damaged, which can not only put the patients’ lives at risk, but also damage the entire hospital’s operations. Such incident will cause the facility to expect more casualties from outside the hospital, and, thus, it should not be in the capacity to accept more patients (Lawrence, 2013). The hospital’s information system can also be affected causing a standstill in the operations. The hospital’s employees may also be injured thus causing a shortage in workers needed to carry out the activities. In the case of a flood, the outside compound can be damaged as well.

Another risk that this hospital faces is the fire threat. The facility is provided with electricity at all times, and there are generators installed within the building that will be useful in the case of accidental power loss. However, if a fire occurs, this power installation can act as a catalyst spreading flame across the hospital. The removal of patients from the wards can prove to be difficult bearing in mind that fire can be transmitted by electrical connects. The explosion of the generators can result in the collapse of some buildings, which can lead to some patients and workers being trapped in the burning building (Lawrence, 2013). The medical facilities and treatment equipment may be completely destroyed thus affecting further healthcare operations. Lastly, the computers, files, communication lines, and other information systems within the hospital can also be affected damaging critical health information and distorting operations.  

Incident Response Planning (IRP)

Once the abovementioned threats actualize, the hospital will have to take several immediate actions to help prevent any further disruption of the organizational activities. In the event of an earthquake, tsunami or a hurricane, the first action is evacuation from the risky buildings before any further damages occur (Hassell & Talbert, 2016). If the outside of the hospital remains safe, the facility will automatically launch an outside setup using its moveable tents that are well-equipped to handle operations temporarily. All the workers should be trained to facilitate an efficient movement of patients within the shortest time possible. If the outside of the hospital is flooded and the buildings are unsafe, a high group area will be required immediately. The second branch of the hospital in the uphill five kilometers away will serve as a resort in such situation.

When fire spreads within the hospital, the immediate action is an attempt of the workers to put the flame out. With the help of well-equipped mechanisms to fight the fire, the workers will be in a position to react fast. The evacuation of patients and hospital equipment should be done simultaneously, and trained workers should oversee these processes (Hassell & Talbert, 2016). The hospital will also have a mechanism aimed to rescue those trapped within the building. Equipment and training should be provided beforehand to ensure safe evacuation. A temporary hospital will be created in the hospital park with the materials supplied from the hospital’s surplus.

Lastly, the information system will be backed up on the internet and in the physical form. The backed up files will be protected from the abovementioned threats, and, thus, all patients’ information will be available immediately (Sittig et al., 2014). The staff, however, will be required to switch to the manual system of management. Hence, the workers should be trained to use this system in advance. If the physical storage fails, then workers will be allowed to bring their own devices to help restore the records of the organization.

Disaster Recovery Planning (DRP)

In the case of an earthquake, tsunami or a hurricane causing destruction of all buildings and equipment, the following mechanism will be applied for recovery. First of all, the hospital will place all the buildings and infrastructure, including the information system, under an insurance cover (McLaughlin, 2014). In the event of destruction, the insurance organization will recover all of the hospital’s primary assets. This decision will ensure that the hospital returns to its original position within the shortest time possible and without any financial constraints.

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In the possible event of a fire, an insurance policy will also be acquired to ensure that the hospital is protected. However, in order to recover the information system, the backup will be needed. All data of the organization shall be stored in the cloud to ensure that it is protected from the group threats (McLaughlin, 2014). The data in the cloud shall be updated on a daily basis to ensure that it is relevant to the hospital’s operations. In the event of data recovery, once the information systems’ equipment is installed, the data will be safely retrieved from the cloud.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP)

If any threat occurs and the hospital is adversely affected, the following measures will be taken to ensure that business operations continue. First, the hospital will sign a treaty with the nearby institutions and building owners so that in an event of a disaster, they can offer a rental space for a temporary hospital (McLaughlin, 2014). This decision will ensure that healthcare operations are not affected. Moreover, the facility will have several alternatives of where to start a temporary hospital until the recovery of the main building.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s information system will be switched to the traditional filing method. The facility should always maintain several files in a safe location to ensure that they are available immediately to the employees who require them in order to carry out their duties (McLaughlin, 2014). The availability of these files will ensure that the hospital’s operations are not hindered by poor communication, as the access to the patients’ health information will be provided.

The Policies and Procedures Needed for All Contingency Planning Efforts

Several policies and procedure will be required to ensure that the outlined contingency plan is successful. Above all, the company should ensure that its physical assets, including all the information systems, are insured from all the risks identified in this plan. Thus, the organization should introduce this policy to its finance department, which will ensure the maintenance of regular insurance premium payments to avoid the incidence of default (McLaughlin, 2014). The hospital will also have a policy of labeling its buildings to enhance a quick response from all individuals within the premises. This procedure will involve placing the stickers with necessary precautions at every strategic point in the hospital. These labels will also disclose a fire assembly point, where all people will be safe once they leave the buildings.

The hospital will also mainntain a policy of awareness for all the employees of the organization. This awareness will be maintained by trainings, workshops, warfare meetings and sponsoring officers’ safety studies in higher institutions. What is more, the company will always maintain a backup for its information system, which will be updated on a daily basis (McLaughlin, 2014). In this process, a cloud backup system will be managed by the group of employees who will maintain and update it on a regular basis.

The Role of the Policy / Procedure

The policies and procedures outlined above shall serve a purpose of the response to the hazards faced by the hospital. First, they will ensure that all the necessary precautions are put into perspective even before the event occurs; hence, in the case of an accident, all the needed steps will be taken in order (Martínez, 2011). These policies and procedures will also ensure that the organization acquires all the necessary equipment and skills required to overcome a hazardous event. All a result, all of the workers will be protected, and they will also be in a position to protect the patients of the hospital.

The outlined policy will also help the management to stick to the contingency plan at all times. Hence, the organization can safely proceed with planning its finances and other resources that require substantial capital input. The policy in question will also address the needed to develop a system that emphasizes the importance of keeping hospital safe at all times (Martínez, 2011). The above procedure stresses the importance that the hospital places on its data; hence, such data will be stored safely at all times.

The Processes for the Full Implementation of the Contingency Plan

The following methods shall be employed so that the contingency plan can be fully implemented. First, there is a need to ensure business continuity regardless the situation. In connection with this requirement, the hospital should acquire surplus treatment equipment that will be stored in a secure location. These pieces of equipment will be used if the hospital’s operations are relocated (D’Souza, Ma, & Notobartolo, 2011). It will also be necessary to purchase movable hospital tents that will be used for the setup of a temporary hospital in the safe location. In addition, the facility will need to purchase more ambulance cars in order to safely transport the patients to the branch uphill or the newly established temporary hospital.

Other processes that will be utilized include the purchase of protective clothes and protective equipment, which will enhance the pace of evacuation of patients from the building. The hospital will also acquire fast internet and new computer software, which will ensure that the backed up information stored in the cloud is well-maintained and protected from any cyber threats (D’Souza et al., 2011). Lastly, the organization will also develop a hospital hazard menu and will also employ well-trained disaster officers who will create awareness about precautions in the case of an accident among the workers.

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The Efforts in Maintaining the Plan

One of the efforts that should be considered in maintaining the plan include the continuous payment of insurance premiums. The underwriting of the hospital’s assets is very critical to the facility’s recovery process, and there should is no chance of defaulting on insurance payments. The hospital’s management should also ensure that the ambulance cars are adequate enough to help with the evacuation of patients from the hospital at all times (D’Souza et al., 2011). There should also be continuous updating of the hospital’s hazard manure that explains the escape ways and procedures. The management and other staff should also be introduced to the hospital’s policy about the said threats as soon as they start working for the organization. Lastly, the facility should always update its data in the cloud and ensure that the stored information is relevant and always up to date.

Hypothetical Incident Scenario

One of the incidents that can happen in the hospital in question is a fire accident. It can be cause by the faulty electrical connection, leading to the quick spread of fire to almost all wards in the hospital. Even before the alarms goes off, the large part of the inpatient department of the hospital will be affected, as the flame can spread extremely quickly. Any efforts of the hospital’s staff to put the fire out have been in vain, and the time that will take the firefighting department to arrive has run out. The hospital now has no option but to use its contingency plan to ensure that no more losses occur.

The Plan’s Ability to Handle the Incident

With the fire already burning down a good part of the hospital, the immediate objective is to evacuate all the patients from the wards. The hospital’s staff divides into four main units based on tasks. The first unit conducts the rescue of the patients from the wards. This group is well-equipped and well-trained, and, thus, it can perform the operations even in the wards that have been adversely affected by fire. They are guided by labels while conducting the rescue operation (Hassell & Talbert, 2016). The second group is responsible for setting up a temporary hospital in the park outside of the affected building. This team also supplies the new facility with the extra equipment stored in a secure place. The third group transports the patients to the new hospital camp and ensures that they are delivered safely. The first part of the fourth group is responsible for removing the old pieces of equipment from the hospital’s premises, while the second part of the same team starts recording the rescued patients.

The recovery plan then follows the process outlined above. First, the hospital’s equipment is insured by a credible insurance company. Hence, the hospital has to file for compensation immediately. The insurance will thus analyze the incident and allow the burnt buildings to be rebuilt as soon as possible (Hassell & Talbert, 2016). In the meantime, before the new construction, critical patients can be moved to the hospital’s subsidiary five kilometers away. They can be admitted there for further treatment.

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