Pandemic outbreaks are only the latest in a long list of potential threats healthcare facilities face. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals had to be prepared for hurricanes, tornados, flooding, and man-made risks such as active shooters and cyberattacks. In Consulting-Specifying Engineer, Mike Zorich, principal and national director of healthcare for engineering consultant firm IMEG, takes an in-depth look at the strategic planning that facilities must conduct to ensure resilient design. The first step, he says, is a complete hazard assessment.

“For example, Kaiser Permanente’s Hazard Vulnerability Analysis Tool provides a systematic approach to analyzing hazards that may affect demand for hospital services or a facility’s ability to provide those services,” Zorich writes. “It helps to prioritize planning, mitigation, response and recovery activities. In addition to natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and floods, look at other threats like a water or gas shortage, a communications breakdown or heating, ventilation and air conditioning failure.”

Zorich also addresses infrastructure hardening, or the process of reinforcing systems such as standby generators within the hospital to make them more resilient against disaster. “Consider not just the on-site generators but also the fuel supply, pumps, switching gear, and distribution systems,” Zorich suggests.

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