Home » Blog » Hospitals Must Prepare for Winter Patient Influx

Hospitals Must Prepare for Winter Patient Influx

As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, there is one universal truth experienced in all corners of the U.S.: People will get sick.

Flu season comes around every year and takes its toll on a good chunk of the population. As such, it’s crucial that hospitals and urgent care facilities get ready for the influx of patients.

Get Ready Before Storms Threaten

Planning for the impending winter should begin early. Dr. Suneel Dhand wrote that planning meetings should be held in November and December, where physician leaders and hospital administration will discuss:

  • Creating winter schedules that include more doctors and nurses on-hand
  • Contingency plans in the event that a storm threatens the community
  • Supplies that need to be stocked up

When more people begin to get sick or there is an extreme weather event, hospitals can fill up quickly. As such, supplies and space will rapidly become limited. Extra medications, food and supplies should be ordered to prepare for the coming months.

Additionally, hospital administration should determine how to maximize bed space for an influx of patients. If there are any usable rooms currently used for purposes other than treating the sick, consider taking some time before the flu or colds begin to spread throughout your community to clean them out and prepare them for hospital stays.

When the Forecast Looks Bleak

Depending on where a hospital is located, there’s a good chance a major blizzard will hit the area sooner or later. It’s important to have a plan outlined before this becomes an immediate reality, and revisited when the forecast is predicting stormy weather.

Hospital leaders need to plan ahead when a winter storm is predicted.Physician leaders and hospital administration must make preparations when a blizzard is in the forecast.

The first thing hospital administration should do is check inventory levels. If anything from medications to food to bed linens is low, be sure to stock up and consider ordering extras. Not only will these items likely be in high demand, but poor driving conditions could delay short-term restock. Additionally, if the road conditions aren’t good, it may not be wise to discharge patients too soon, Advisory Board noted. This could put greater demand on what may be already limited inventory.

When loading up on food, medicine and supplies, it can be tricky finding extra storage space. This becomes especially true when clearing out rooms for additional patients or to make room for sleeping staff. The two undertakings can easily become contradictory, and some hospitals may feel they need to choose between more space or more inventory. One way to create room without sacrificing supplies, or conversely increase inventory without giving up needed space, is to use portable storage units. Mobile Mini’s hospital storage solutions can give linens, food and other supplies a place to stay on-hand but out of the way until they are needed.

Certain supplies may only be used a few times a year, such as snow removal equipment or backup generators. These can also be kept in storage units so they are easily accessible when necessary and out of the way when not.

While each winter is unique, there are some aspects of the season that probably will never change. Since doctors know that the upcoming months will bring more patients and may even bring harsh winter weather, the smart thing to do is to be prepared.